Wrangler Elisa Wilke wants people to be less intimidated by reptiles. At the Yorkton Exhibition Summer Fair, the daily reptile show has been attracting kids and adults to get an up close and personal look at snakes, turtles, iguanas and even an alligator, all with the intent of getting people more comfortable with the animals.
“Our whole show really covers and shows people how to understand and interact with these guys, but also appreciate them.”
Working with exotic animals since she was sixteen, Wilke was inspired to work with reptiles because she found them to be more misunderstood than dangerous. She noticed that working in zoos, animals like lions and monkeys were more likely to get attention than a lizard or a snake, and she thought that they needed to take some of the fear away.
“These guys have always held a little bit of fear for some people, and we want to dispel that fear.”
The show is part of a reptile rescue located in Colonsay, SK. Wilke estimates that over 100 reptiles go through their doors every year, most getting rehomed and some staying and becoming part of the show, like Ethel the Boa Constrictor, who can’t be adopted out because that is illegal.
“Once you get to know her, just like me, she’s not that weird or scary.”
One of the big messages that Wilke wants people to take away is that wild animals belong in the wild, and should be kept there where they can live out their lives as they were meant to and help keep their species going. On that same note, animals raised in captivity belong in captivity, because they’re not suited to that environment, and could become an invasive species.
The fair has been a great event, and she is glad they had the chance to educate people on the reptiles that surround them and give them an experience they haven’t had before.
“It’s been amazing! We’ve had so many children, parents and even grandparents that have had an experience that they’ve never had before, whether it is petting a snake, holding a snake for the first time, holding a tarantula for the first time or even petting an alligator.”
To follow what they’re doing, visit www.saskreptileshow.ca.