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Snake expert charms kids during reptile show at Manteca Library

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Snake expert charms kids during reptile show at Manteca Library

"Python Ron" McGee wraps a python around the waist of Faith Johnson Wednesday during a reptile education presentation at the Manteca Public Library.

JASON CAMPBELL/The Bulletin


POSTED April 10, 2009 4:07 a.m.
Faith Johnson might have been wearing the most fashionable belt in town.

As one of the dozens of kids who turned out for Python Ron’s Reptile Kingdom presentation Wednesday at the Manteca Public Library, Johnson showed no fear as she stepped up onto a footstool and prepared herself to have a boa constrictor placed around her waist as she modeled off the new trend with a smile.

And while Python Ron’s presentation has become an annual staple that draws hordes of fans every time he makes an appearance, it was also a big hit with first timers who brought their children to see what the event was all about.

“I live here in town, and I hear about these events occasionally and thought I’m coming to check one out,” said Janine Gallardo who brought her two-and-a-half-year-old son Gabriel to enjoy the creatures. “He’s definitely having fun, and I’m pretty sure I’d love to come back to something like this.”

While the majority of the kids in attendance were there to see the various reptiles ranging from creepy crawlers to massive snakes, Reptile Ron – also known as Ron McGee – made the event an educational experience for all who attended with tidbits of information about each of the creatures he showed and even offered ownership advice.

When showing various members of the lizard family, he warned parents that even though they might seem cute when they’re babies in a pet store, they can grow to be almost the size of a human and can deliver a bite that will almost assuredly secure a trip to the emergency room.

The highlight of the show, however, were the various snakes that he handled to the delight of the kids who kept trying to get a closer look – starting with several small corn snakes before moving on to more exotic species.

In addition to showing a false water cobra and a very rare reverse albino reticulated python – the longest species of snake in the world – Python Ron also showed an amazingly large red-tailed boa constrictor, an albino Burmese python, and a green anaconda.

With the ability to grow up to 500 pounds, the anaconda drew a fair amount of attention – especially when it refused to get back into its crate and wrapped itself up around the table forcing its handler to wait for it to move before securing it again.

For Manteca resident Mark Pfeifer, the event gave his family a chance to get even closer to the animals that they research and love.

“My kids are home schooled, and they’re zoo ambassadors on their spare time so they’re very interested in this,” he said. “It’s nice to be able to have these events here in town where we can come enjoy them as a family.”
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