“Hands on” reptile displays under attack in 2011
In Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, everyone knows that Snakebusters, are the leaders when it comes to “hands-on” kids reptile parties in Melbourne, mobile reptile parties and live animal shows. Most people know that in Melbourne, Snakebusters are alone in letting people hold reptiles during their wildlife shows.
Other less experienced companies demonise reptiles and tell audiences that snakes and other reptiles are far too dangerous and unpredictable to handle.
These handlers, then “big note” themselves and their alleged handling skills, pretending that they are far beyond the ability of pretty much everyone else but themselves.
That these statements are bare-faced lies is shown by the fact that world-wide there are millions of people keep snakes and other reptiles as pets and they tend to handle the reptiles daily and without killing either themselves or their reptiles.
Since 2006, two newly licenced and very inexperienced demonstrators and two staff at the government-run Melbourne Zoo (“Zoo’s Victoria”) have been waging a bitter and twisted campaign to demonise Snakebusters and the hands-on reptile shows the company does.
The motivation is purely commercial as these people try to steal the customers and business Snakebusters has captured via their superior displays and presentations.
The novice demonstrators are Sean McCarthy, with no snake keeping experience pre-dating 2005 (and this is by his own admission on internet forums and the like) and the similarly inexperienced novice Michael Alexander, with slightly more expertise than McCarthy.
McCarthy calls his outfit “the snake handler” which is an odd name as he uses metal snake tongs to grab snakes, rather than actually “handling” them. Alexander calls his company “Black snake productions” and he too attacks snakes with metal sticks.
The two novices and two staff from Melbourne Zoo have made a series of sworn statements for legal proceedings and posts on internet forums they control demonizing Australia’s Snake man Raymond Hoser, Snakebusters and pretty much anything to do with allowing kids or adults to hold reptiles during educational reptile displays.
Yes, they all demonize reptiles more than even the most dramatic of B-grade hollywood flicks.
The arguments they have stated (paraphrased here) include:
1 – No one should be allowed to touch or handle a snake at a reptile show, because the public are all idiots and they will rush into the bush the next day, pick up a deadly snake and kill themselves.
For the record, this has never happened in the wake of a Snakebusters show, but the argument about “sending the wrong message” is peddled daily against Snakebusters in a manner that broadly equates Raymond Hoser with a serial mass-murderer!
2 – In terms of lizards, these ratbags argue that while non-venomous, lizards are biological nightmares, with many bites leading to infection and death. This includes for species such as Bluetongue lizards. Melbourne Zoo veterinarian, Helen McCracken made such statements numerous times on oath in legal proceedings in 2011 and was believed by the magistrate Greg McNamara, who by his own admission knew nothing about reptiles! For the record, no one has ever been killed by a bluetongue lizard!
3 – For Crocodiles, the argument is the same pack of lies as for snakes. That is, if a kid holds a crocodile at a mall with Snakebusters, the kid is a sure-fire bet to go to Darwin, swim in the nearest river and get eaten by a big Saltwater Crocodile. PS No Victorians have been eaten by crocs over the last ten years!
Even our advice to “swim next to a fat person so they get eaten first” is more sensible.
(…Question, do crocs eat Asian food?, Question 2, Was the last question racist?)
4 – For frogs, the argument is simple. Kids who hold green tree frogs are bound to eat Cane Toads on their next Gold Coast holiday!
Put simply, the arguments raised by these people are ridiculous and dishonest. The commercial motiviation behind all this is to undermine the leading hands-on reptile shows by Snakebusters so that Melbourne Zoo and these second rate reptile displayers can take the people who currently prefer to deal with experts who provide proper hands-on reptile education.
Most seriously, corrupt officers within the Victorian Department of Sustainability and Environment (DSE) who work with Melbourne Zoo in the same Ministerial umbrella and have a corrupt relationship with the other two demonstrators (and ignore their repeated breaches of the law) have used these statements to charge Snakebusters with the “offence” of allowing people to hold reptiles at shows in shopping malls, a kid’s reptile party, Melbourne animal parties, Melbourne snake shows, Victorian reptile displays, kids events and the like.
Because the Victorian Wildlife Act in it’s preamble states that it’s purpose is to give public access to wildlife, Snakebusters hands-on shows are in fact legal. This is in spite of claims to the contrary and in spite of corrupt magistrate Greg McNamara finding that Snakebusters had broken the law in allowing people to hold reptiles (in Feb 2011) during shows at various venues over previous years.
However as of 2011, DSE have now stated in writing that they are now revising reptile laws and based on comments made at VCAT in 2008 and since, it seems likely that both private ownership of reptiles and any form of “hands-on” in live reptile displays will both be banned in 2012.
The Minster in charge of DSE, Ryan Smith has absolutely no control over DSE or inclination to intervene and so it seems likely that the bans may come to fruition without a hard-fought battle.
Please note that, Raymond Hoser and all the other staff at Snakebusters will be leading the fight for the rights of the Victorian public and be pushing for the retention of “hands-on” reptile shows and the right of private people to have reptiles as pets.
Be warned, the enemies of private reptile keepers and those who want hands on reptile shows include Jon Birkett and Helen McCracken at Melbourne Zoo, as well as novice snake handlers Michael Alexander and Sean McCarthy.
All have made public statements condemning hands-on reptile shows and all by their actions have also put the rights of all reptile-keeping Victorians at risk.
Private ownership of reptiles was a jailable offence for most Australians for the two decades to the mid 1990’s. It was only as a result of Raymond Hoser’s single-handed campaign, culminating in the publication of the “Smuggled” books in 1993 and 1996 by publisher Charles Pierson (for the first and most important of the two books) that forced governments Australia-wide to allow private ownership of reptiles as pets and also hands-on reptile shows in schools, kinder reptile shows, children’s reptile parties, reptile incursions and the like.
These hard won rights that Victorians currently enjoy are now at risk of being lost forever.