That is how I describe the last 15 years.
In July 1996 I signed the documents and secured the permits and licenses to officially create a business that was then known as “The Reptile Lady.”
I had been working 3 separate jobs the past year, all at the same time: park naturalist; zoo educator; and snake removal technician. And I was performing live reptile shows at schools, birthdays and other events on the side using non-releasable reptiles I received working as a wildlife rehabilitator. WHEW! That was a lot of work!
Since I was so into snakes and reptiles, people starting calling me “the reptile lady.” In July, I decided to make it official.
I quit my three other jobs to focus exclusively on being “The Reptile Lady” full time.
At first, I was a one person company. I had a collection of about 20 animals including a boa constrictor named Franki Valli, a savanna monitor named Dion, and a tokay gecko named Freddie Boom Boom Cannon. I had all the animals set up in a room that a friend helped me to remodel to accommodate the small zoo. I spent every day answering the phone, caring for the animals, and performing the shows.
“The Reptile Lady” quickly became a very popular show. In 1996 I performed 152 shows and reached approximately 4000 people. I almost doubled that number 1997: I did 267 shows and reached approximately 15, 550 people. By 1998, it became obvious that I needed help to keep the business growing – I was now doing over 350 shows per year, caring for 30 exotic animals, and doing all of the office work. It was tons of fun – but in order to grow, I had to hire some good people.
Since I was going to hire staff people, (and some of those people might be males who might not want to answer the phone by saying “Reptile Lady”) I decided to rename the business “Reptiles Alive! LLC”.
Next, I relocated the animals and business into a larger location that had lots of room for spacious animal enclosures, a nice cleaning area, storage, and office space. I also built an out door tortoise enclosure.
And then the big step: I hired the first two employees: Jeff Streicher and Jennifer Pullen (now Rafter). I was so lucky to have them! Jeff and Jennifer proved to be just as dedicated to reptiles and wildlife education as I was.
Over the last 15 years, I have had the pleasure of working with many other great people. Some of our former staff people are now working as field biologists, scientists, and one of our former keepers is now the Senior Keeper at the National Zoo Reptile Discovery Center.
We currently have a team of top notch wildlife educators and animal keeper. They perform over 800 shows a year for an average of 60,000 people. In addition, they care for a collection of approximately 60 animals including pythons, boas, alligators, monitor lizards and other amazing creatures. And last but not least, the staff at RA also get to help with the glamorous work in our office.
Without our awesome staff and our awesome fans, Reptiles Alive would not be where we are today. Thank you ALL! And here’s to another sssspectacular 15 years of wildly exciting live animal shows with Reptiles Alive!
Ssssee you in 2026!