KINGSTON — Offer the kids at Wolfle Elementary a treat and they won’t ask for pizza or Krispy Kreme donuts, they’ll ask for iguanas and king cobras.
Recently the school hosted “Reptileman” Scott Peterson for its PTA pledge night. Such events usually have admission charges, but this one was free as a reward to students for successfully fund-raising to build a climbing wall in the school’s gym.
Parents, some looking a little nervous, and kids, mostly jumping up and down with excitement, started staking out chairs for the show half an hour in advance. Kids fidgeted in their chairs and talked excitedly about the boa constrictors, rattle snakes and alligators that awaited them.
And they weren’t disappointed.
Peterson, the owner of the Serpentarium Zoo in Goldbar, is both a showman and a staunch advocate for reptiles. Through his show he teaches kids the myths and realities about many crawling and slithering beasties. Mainly he espouses not fearing snakes and reptiles, but understanding the way they behave.
And his enthusiasm for these creatures shows in the kids he meets. When Peterson asked if anyone wanted to hold his small boa constrictor, hands throughout the packed auditorium shot into the air.
After the show, the kids were all smiles.
“It was awesome,” sixth-grader Justin Symes said excitedly after the show, adding that his favorite part was seeing the rattlesnake.
Following the presentation, the kids lined up to pet Peterson’s giant tortoise and iguana. But the biggest line was to have a picture taken with the giant, yellow boa constrictor wrapped around your body.
“I think the snakes are really cute,” said sixth-grader Kelsey Chandler while waiting in the photo line.
But, of course, some of the adults were a little less enthusiastic about coming face to face with these creatures.
Talia DeCoteau of Little Boston watched from a distance as her son and his friends waited for a turn with the boa. She said she thought the event was a great one for kids, but she personally had no intent on going near the constrictor.
“I don’t mind the lizards, but it’s the snakes that scare me,” she said.