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Safari Invades the Artesia Library

SE-04By Tammye McDuff

Thor’s Reptile Family paid a visit to the Artesia Library Saturday, January 17, 2015, to the delight of many squealing children.  Presented in a nurturing hands-on, interactive format, Reptile Family handler Thor acquainted children and parents to a world of exotic animals.

Thorsten Pape [Thor] is a certified animal trainer. Pape gave instruction up front, letting children and parents know that each animal had been properly bathed and groomed for the show.

Thor introduced his first set of the slippery, slimy, creepy crawly critters saying, “this is my reptile family. We are going to go on a safari around the world to the rain forest, the desert, and the jungles. I brought some animals that live down in the ground and some that live in the trees. Some of the animals eat bugs, some eat fruit and some eat everything!”

For the safety of the children and the relief of parents, Thor instructs the children they may touch the animals and even hold them, but only as instructed.

The first animal to come out of hiding was Mildred from Africa, who nibbles on plants and has 276 legs. Mildred is millipede. This creepy crawly friend was brought around for the children to see and touch.

The next friend to crawl out was a special spider named Rosalie a Mexican red kneed tarantula. As the children called her name, Rosalie popped out of her basket and crawled onto the table.

Next was Miss Freckles the tree frog from the rain forest who the kids loved as the frog slimed their hands.

Little Bob, a two year old baby bearded dragon was next  “covered in spikes from head to toe to tail’ says Thor.

Then the big animals came out. A blue tongued skink reptile named ‘Mama Betsy’ and, from the jungles of New Guinea, came Flash, an enormous Monitor.

But the star of the day was Snuggles the 12’ albino Burmese python who Thor handled with expert hands.

German by birth, Pape grew up in Egypt, Sri Lanka, Indonesia and Thailand before finally settling in the United States. His childhood was spent in Africa and Asia “picking up anything that slithered, crawled or hopped through the backyard,” this is where his deep interest in understanding animals developed.

After studying photography in San Francisco, Pape decided to turn his passion for animals into something more serious and went on to attend Moorpark College; graduating with a diploma in Exotic Animal Training and Management.

Pape has managed marine parks and dolphin interactive programs in Antigua and Hawaii and worked for the Muenster Allwetter Zoo in Germany. Returning to the mainland, Pape has spent the last few years growing his reptile family to provide educational programs.

Pape notes, “what makes our reptiles special is that they are all rescued animals. We are a family business and each one of these animals is a pet and part of our family.”

Photo 01 – SE 01 – Thor introducing himself to the attendees

Photo 02 – SE 02 – Children holding the Blue Tongued Skink

Photo 03 – SE 03 – Adults and children fascinated by Flash the Monitor

Photo 04 – SE 04 – Thor and Snuggles