Reptile house at the Toledo Zoo celebrates its 70th anniversary

Julie Restivo and Julie Restivo

The reptiles and amphibians that live in the Toledo Zoo’s Reptile House celebrated and feasted for their 70th anniversary.

On Wednesday, the members of the herpetology department demonstrated feedings of carcasses and brought out other reptiles for people to get a close look at and touch.

Jeff Goodman, Lead Animal Behavior Interpreter, who was giving demonstrations, said that throughout the day the red-tailed boa constructor, the leopard gecko, the bearded dragon, the blue tongue skink and the sping-talied agana were all fed dead mice for audiences.

Goodman said that he enjoys talking to the public about the animal feedings. He likes being able to explain to people that, “Feedings are not nasty but a part of life.”

The scheduled feedings took place at the top of each hour all afternoon.

The anniversary celebrates the Reptile House which was completed in 1934 under the Civil Works Administration and the Federal Emergency Relief Administration public works program.

The entire building was made by hand out of salvaged and recycled materials.

Andi Norman, Assistant Director of Marketing and Public Relations said, “The building is a unique example of the Depression era craftsmanship.”

Norman points out that building the Reptile House provided many jobs for people who were in need at that time.

She also said this was one of the first recycled buildings to ever be built and that the Reptile House has made the Toledo Zoo nationally known.

The building was designed by renowned herpetologist, Roger Conant, the Zoo’s Curator of Reptiles from 1929-1935.

The beauty of the building is challenged by the beauty within the building.

Inside holds over 350 reptiles and amphibians that represent over 100 species from every continent in the world except Antarctica.

Unique animals such as the new guinea snake-necked turtle, blue dart frog and the emerald tree boa are only a few of the interesting creatures on display.

The Reptile House holds both a king cobra and a bushmaster, which can both be extremely venomous. These two are considered the most dangerous reptiles in the building.

Monty, the burmese python, also requires full security because of his potential danger.

Zookeeper, Tori Schneider, said that Monty is incredibly strong. “It takes three staff members to hold him when we let him out. It is not his venom that we worry about; it’s how quickly he could toss his coils around a person which could be fatal.”

Since the anniversary fell on a weekday, many people were unable to visit the Reptile House to witness the feedings.

Norman said that since many people enjoy watching the process, the zoo now has a schedule of the feedings on a flyer that is distributed at the welcome gate.