If it slithers, hisses or has scales, there’s a good chance that animal was on display at Saturday’s Snake Day at Elachee Nature Science Center in Gainesville.
“We have a record number of exhibitors this year,” said Kim Marks, development director for the center.
Peter Gordon, director of education who has worked at the center since 1992, said there has been at least 23 Snake Days he can recall.
Gordon said the event serves as the kickoff for the center’s fall classes, camps and other festivities.
“The community just loves it,” Gordon said.
Ella Wright, 7, is one who loves that special day when she gets to handle the reptiles.
“She loves to hold the snakes and learn about the critters in our area,” Heather Wright said. “The bigger the better.”
But Nora Wright, 6, doesn’t like the snakes as much as her big sister. Volunteer Kim Mross’ goal for Snake Day is to convince someone like Nora that snakes aren’t the big baddies they often seem.
The Canton woman runs her own business, All Things Wild North Georgia, which aims to educate and conserve the species. She also helps people identify snakes in their backyards and remove them, if necessary.
“I’m just passionate about snakes,” Mross said. “If I can get one person to say they’re not afraid of snakes any more, I’ve done my job.”
Mross came to her first Snake Day with Jim Seymour, who owns the reptile company Scalebrations and is a licensed wildlife trapper. Seymour was one of the event’s many exhibitors, and brought two special guests: two small, year-old alligators.
These exhibitors not only brought dozens of snakes to the show, but also other reptiles and amphibians such as turtles, frogs and lizards.
“We come here every year,” Genie Robbins, 14, said. She brought along friend Izzy Gewin, also 14, and her family.
“My family doesn’t like snakes, so we drag them along,” Genie said. “It’s a tradition.”
Morgan Peacock kept it in the family, too. Peacock’s mother Laurinda Peacock has worked for Elachee for years as a naturalist and has worked with the animals that stay at Elachee year-round.
“She called me and said there would be a lot of people here today, so I came over in five minutes,” she said.