The Calgary Reptile Expo attracted crowds to interact with exotic creatures and raise awareness for reptile and amphibian conservation.
The expo, hosted by The Alberta Reptile and Amphibian Society, brought in about 40 vendors from across Canada to The Absolute Baseball Academy in Calgary to sell reptiles and pet supplies while promoting cold-blooded interactions and habitat conservation.
Attendees held live snakes, handled tarantulas, and interacted with massive tortoises.
“We’ve been around for almost 40 years now,” said Brandon Millichamp, the president of The Alberta Reptile and Amphibian Society. “To my knowledge, we’ve been running the expo ever since. So we’ve been running around for a long time, but it’s usually been really small and with the popularity of specialty pets, the expo has become more popular.”
Vendors offered a wide variety of animals for sale from boa constrictors to axolotls, along with merchandise such as terrariums, food, and heating systems. Others fashioned balloon animals, and sold preserved creatures in jars.
The society had a booth describing how certain animals native to Alberta were under threat and how attendees could help.
“If we don’t have a habitat for these animals in the wild, we won’t be able to see them in captivity, because they’ll be extinct,” Millichamp said. “And so I think it’s really important that we have programs in place to help wildlife because it’s needed for ecosystems, right? Without that, we don’t have a lot of stuff that we have today.”
One of the many reptile enthusiasts selling pets was Stuart Brown, the founder of The Bug Guys. He explained why many are drawn to exotic creatures.
“Everything has its job, its purpose, whether you love them or not,” Brown said. “I’m totally fine with that. It’s not for everybody. Not everybody likes the same car. That’s why cars look different. But we must respect and appreciate all of the lights on our planet if it is to survive.”