A Langley alligator is making an excursion to Abbotsford soon, part of efforts to educate the public about owning reptiles.
Mike Hopcraft, aka Mike the Reptile Guy, will be taking Pandora the alligator to the Vancouver Men's Show at the Abbotsford Tradex June 15-17.
Pandora currently resides at the Greater Vancouver Zoo in Aldergrove, where a permanent enclosure is planned of her.
For a long time, her home was a suburban house in Port Kells, on the Langley-Surrey border.
She was turned over to Hopcraft, who runs a reptile refuge, in the winter of 2010.
He picked up the then 7'6" long gator, and immediately had to deal with the brand new bureaucracy around owning exotic pets. Her name Pandora came from the fact that she turned out to bring a lot of complications.
That didn't manage to make him dislike Pandora one bit: "She's such a big, beautiful, impressive animal," he said.
While Hopcraft is obviously enthusiastic about Pandora and the other reptiles he's taken in over the years, his main message is that they don't make good pets.
He's seen the common story all too often: a pet owner buys a small caiman, crocodile, or alligator, usually a foot long or less.
They think they'll be able to work with the animal and tame them, but nine times out of 10 they find them-selves with an aggressive creature that can cause serious damage.
Crocodilians can grow to very large sizes and become difficult to control over just a few years. He's seen many animals given up at three to four feet long because their owners couldn't handle them anymore.
"They have their instincts," he said. Even dogs can bite, and crocodiles and alligators are not domesticated dogs.
He's also been wounded by the animals he cares for; a scratch several years ago from a near-bite took 17 stitches to close.
He also notes that it is now illegal to keep such animals, under the rules brought in a few years ago.
Hopcraft will give people a good look at Pandora during a Saturday, June 16 appearance at the show. He's been working with her lately, and he'll see if she'll do some walking and open her mouth, to let people see what an alligator is.
But she won't be on display during the whole weekend.
The booth at the show will be open for the whole weekend, and will have information about reptiles, and about the Greater Vancouver Zoo.
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