Recreational Activities May 22, 2024

The Reptile Zoo

The Reptile Man and his Gaboon Viper.

Do You Know The Reptile Man of The Reptile Zoo?

Have you ever heard a Gaboon Viper hiss a menacing Darth Vader breath into a microphone? I have. It’s a sound that lingered in my memory long after I’d heard it. My journey with Scott “The Reptile Man” Peterson began many years ago. I was at an elementary school assembly where he wowed and educated us with his interactive reptile presentation. He touted creatures from a tortoise to the second deadliest snake in the world, the Gaboon Viper. If you haven’t had the chance to witness one of these electrifying shows in person, fret not! You can visit his menagerie of reptiles at The Reptile Zoo, located in Monroe.

Situated right off Highway 2, The Reptile Zoo is impossible to miss.

Its plot of land practically kisses the roadside. Despite its modest size, I believe this zoo packs a punch. While an average visitor might breeze through in 30 to 45 minutes, my experience lasted longer. Accompanied by my enthusiastic budding herpetologist, my daughter, we delved deep into the world of scales and slithers. We spent somewhere around two hours exploring the exhibits. And truth be told, we could have easily stayed longer if time allowed. 

Upon entering the zoo, we were met by a rush of humid, muggy air.

We watched Barnabus, the American Alligator, keeping warm under heat lamps.

This provided support for the perfect captive habitat for the exotic creatures waiting within. If you’re not used to that kind of climate, I recommend you wear layers. That way you can peel off your jacket and adjust to your appropriate comfort level. Otherwise, it might not be an enjoyable experience for you.

On our most recent visit we were greeted almost immediately by a hands-on encounter.

There at the front of the room sat a 9-foot long Burmese Python and an American Alligator. Their handlers invited us to gently touch each creature. Which set the tone for a fun visit as on previous visits we were only able to gently touch the top of a few tortoise shells. Then purely by accident, I learned it is a poor idea to wear bright blue nail polish to the zoo because they shone like a beacon attracting reptilian curiosity. Reptile activity increased as I passed, and I quickly learned to put my fingers away. A few well-placed bobs and foot stomps from an Iguana, and an unexpected leap from a tiny alligator made me aware of my faux paus.

Apart from my unintentional breech of etiquette, we enjoyed our time looking at “the most extensive collection of reptiles on display in the Pacific Northwest.”

Just a few of the reptiles I saw while at the Reptile Zoo- including the Iguana I deeply offended with my blue polish.

From the marvel of a two-headed turtle to the ethereal beauty of an albino alligator, every corner of the zoo held a new wonder. While the rainy weather dashed our hopes of exploring the Tortoise Garden outdoors, we did take the time to visit each open exhibit twice, savoring every moment. We left feeling thoroughly satisfied, have gotten more than our money’s worth.

Having visited the Reptile Zoo multiple times now, it’s safe to say we’ll be making the drive again in the future.

Unlike larger more crowded zoos, this gem offers a leisurely pace. I found it allowed us to immerse ourselves in the marvels of the reptile kingdom without feeling overwhelmed for time. So, if you find yourself in the area, I wholeheartedly recommend experiencing this up-close encounter with reptiles at least once. Trust me, it’s an adventure you won’t soon forget! 


Kerriann Jenkins