Meet Karissa!

If you’ve had the pleasure of having Karissa present at one of your Jurassic Parties, then you’ll know what an absolute sweetheart she is. Her patience and smiles make her excellent with kids of all ages, but underneath that sweet tiny exterior is a core of iron. This girl can haul a 60lb tortoise with the best of our presenters, despite being a head shorter than all of them.

Karissa is currently studying Biology at UC Irvine, and eventually wants a career working with animals. She applied to work at the zoo about a year ago and was THRILLED to receive an interview, and then a job offer. Before she worked for us at Jurassic Parties, Karissa volunteered with all sorts of animals; reptiles and mammals alike. She’s worked local reptile events for kids, and donated her time and energy to animal shelters. Her passion for animals and outreach make her such a fantastic employee.

Reaching out to the chameleons.

Karissa one day hopes to work in the conservation field with endangered animals in Africa. She holds a special place in her heart for big cats, which she hopes to one day work with at a zoo or rescue organization. When not presenting at Jurassic Parties, Karissa is working towards her bachelor’s degree in biology. Her favorite food is pizza, her star sign is Aquarius (just like Forest!), and her favorite animals at the Reptile Zoo are the Dumeril’s boas. The funniest thing that happened to her so far at work was when she was talking to a visitor, one of our chameleons went to the bathroom right above her. She finished answering the question she was asked, and then in true polite and sweet Karissa fashion, excused herself to freshen up.

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Something Wicked This Way It Hops!

We’ve got a new species here at the zoo! While they look fairly unassuming, these new animals are set to make a splash. Everyone, welcome the new cane toads! Worf, Worfina, and Goldie were generously donated by Brian Allen, and are just so special we couldn’t wait to tell you all about them!

First off, cane toads are considered an invasive species here in the United States. These toads are originally from Central and South America, and were introduced by humans as a pest control measure in sugar cane fields. This happened to spectacularly backfire, as the toads didn’t eat the beetles that they were supposed to, and instead began to reproduce and spread across the southern states. What makes them harmful and invasive instead of just an introduced species is that they out-compete native toads for food; they have been known to eat 20x the amount of food of a similarly sized native toad species. They feed on a variety of insects, but as they grow larger they will begin to eat anything that fits in their mouth, including matter that is already dead. They have no set breeding season and reproduce year round, which is problematic as they can spawn up to 30,000 eggs in a single spawning event. In prime habitat, cane toad populations can reach up to 2,000 toads per hectare. That’s 2 toads every 10 square meters! Aside from outcompeting native toad species, these toads have another nasty trick up their sleeve… poison.

The cane toad has a large gland located behind the eye. When stressed or scared, these toads ooze a milky white liquid called Bufotoxin. This toxin is present in all the life cycles of the cane toad, even down to the tadpoles and eggs. When this toxin comes in contact with skin, it reddens and swells. If it enters a cut on the body or is ingested, the poison affects breathing, blood pressure, and heartbeat. Victims may excessively salivate, vomit, or become paralyzed. This nasty substance has actually been the cause of some controversy; it is considered a class 1 drug in Australia, right up there with cannabis and heroin, as it can also bring on hallucinations if ingested. Before you go getting any ideas, this toxin can also bring on an acute case of dead, so avoid touching/licking/mouthing the toads. Here at the Reptile Zoo we do not play around, and always handle these toads with gloves to avoid any contact with this nasty poison. While there is usually not enough toxin to kill an adult human, children and especially family pets are at risk. Many dogs and cats have unfortunately become victims of cane toad poison.

Check out the little pores in the paratoid gland! That's where the poison comes out

All that nastiness aside, we couldn’t be more excited to have these toads here! You all know we have a soft spot for freakishly large animals, and while these toads aren’t quite there yet, we know that one day they’ll be outstripping our African Bullfrogs in size! So make sure you come by and admire Worf, Worfina, and Goldie in their new home next to our giant python habitat!

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Meet Michael!

Meet Michael!

Those of you who follow our blog and come to the zoo know that, around here, we love our gentle giants. Not all of them are snakes and lizards though! We wanted to formally (and belatedly) introduce you to Michael, one of the fabulous people that make up the team here at the Reptile Zoo.

When Michael isn’t traveling all over Southern California bringing joy and reptiles to people everywhere, he can usually be found at our petting station in the zoo, chatting to visitors about all of the exotic animals we have here. His knowledge of reptiles can only be dwarfed by his impressive stature. He is an information sponge, and has been soaking up reptile facts since he was a little boy. The most common question Michael gets is “Where did you learn all this stuff?” and he cheerfully replies “All self-taught!” Michael began in 2013 as a lot of our employees begin, by working for the zoo in our OC Fair exhibit over the summer.

When not working here at the zoo, Michael likes to relax, hang out with friends, and occasionally go out for a spirited round or two of airsoft. His favorite foods are anything new and exotic. Michael aspires to one day be like Steve Irwin, an ambassador to reptiles and people alike. His favorite animal at the zoo is Harvey, the red panther chameleon living above the photo booth. Like Mandy and Lauren, he too is a Scorpio! He kindly took the time to narrate his funniest moment at the zoo:

“ I was replenishing water to the cages around the zoo. Upon opening the olive python cage, one made a break for it. While I was trying to coil it back up into its cage, the other olive python decided my forearm looked like a good spot to bite. It let go two seconds later, but I was strangely calm and proud of receiving my first big snake bite. It’s a badge of honor around here. Soldiers compare war wounds, we compare animal bites. Jay and Lynda were trying to patch me up, but it wasn’t so bad as it looked. I’m honestly a little disappointed that it didn’t leave a better scar… “

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ARE YOU READY TO PARTY?!?

Don't have a boring party! Have a Jurassic Party! Fun, educational, and the experience of a lifetime!

Voted "Best Party in Orange County"  Jurassic Parties brings an exciting “hands-on” presentation with "Prehistoric Pets" from around the globe including giant pythons, lizards, frogs, tortoises, and tarantulas just to name a few. Your host creates an outrageously fun, exciting, and educational experience that you and your guests will never forget. You can join-in on the fun or just stand back, watch, and learn. The presentation is full of photo opportunities and concludes with a group photo with our large python!

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