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Sunday, April 20, 2014
Being on Erik’s reptile ‘edventure’ at Rock Hall Museum
By Jeff Bessen and Dana Pearl
Jeffrey Bessen/Herald
A red-eyed tree frog sat on Julian Awalom’s head to the amusement of him and Erik Callender.

Erik’s Reptile Edventure show encompassed a cockroach, frogs, lizards, snakes and an alligator, but what it was mostly for the children from South Shore Nassau County day camps and daycare centers, along with kids brought by their parents, was a lot of fun.

Erik is Erik Callender, who created his live animal shows to educate children about nature five years ago and uses his programs to raise money for such projects as building a nature education center in the village of Ranomafana on the island nation of Madagascar.

“I liked the boa constrictor the best,” said Liam McInerney, 8, of Merrick. “The animals are cool, “ said Malka Vaiselberg, 4, of Valley Stream, who now wants a frog.

Not only do the children receive an education about the animals, but also Callender includes audience participation and has the kids come up and touch some of the animals and brings the animals into the audience.

And similar to when parents might hide food their children don’t like in food they do like, Callender doles out dollops of wisdom, “Promise to follow your dreams,” or I promise to read five books about animals before I get one,” to the kids who repeat the words in unison with him.

Kids got to hold a 120-pound albino Burmese Python named Twinkie, saw Wally the Alligator eat a rat feed to her by Callender and watched him parade around with a boa constrictor named Miss Flex on a tree branch.

“I liked the yellow snake (Twinkie) the best and I got a chance to touch it,” said 6 year old Matty Lawler, of Merrick. “We liked the alligator the best and want a pet alligator like the one in the show,” said Kiersten and Dylan Beirne, both of Oceanside, who are 8 and 6, respectively.

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