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How did Reptiles Etc come to be?

Updated: Mar 12, 2023

Welcome to the world of Reptiles Etc! A look inside the work we do training animals for film and facilitating education through school visits, animal parties, outreach and encounters.

So how did it all begin? As a life long animal obsessive- it was inevitable that I would create a life working with animals. I've always had an insatiable curiosity for everything in the natural world but also a keen interest in sharing it with others- something that I found confusing at times as a 5 year old trying to share my collection of interesting rocks and fossils I'd collected with anyone who would listen, and realising that not everyone shared my passion! Watching Michaela Strachen on The Really Wild Show on TV and a visit from a local falconer to my school were hugely inspiring for me, and after volunteering consistently anywhere and everywhere that could take me (from aged 11 or 12 poo picking at my local riding stables in exchange for riding lessons, then from 15 helping out at my local wildlife sanctuary and beyond!), working hard for multiple qualifications including A BSc in Animal Behaviour with Honours, I sit here typing after a 16 year professional zoo career (as a keeper, trainer and educator) with almost every animal you can think of, now 4 years into taking my turn to share my experience and passion with others, teaching from primary to higher education, training animals for films and also presenting animals to a wider audience and the next generation- Hopefully inspiring the next generation of nature mad young people, animal carers and eco warriors! And still learning every day...

It all happened quite by accident- or maybe organically, is a better word. When I moved from Amazing Animals- a private zoo that was primarily geared towards providing animals for film and media to Shepreth Wildlife Park in 2007 (I lived on site at both zoos) to become a keeper and educator, I missed the corporate events where I would get to dress up in costumes and facilitate animal encounters at fancy themed parties, so as an increasing number of large unwanted snakes found me , I set up "Snakes and Ladies" to cover my costs and help the snakes pay towards their own care, rescue and rehoming. It worked well alongside my full time zoo job to bring in the extra funding needed. I was involved in both the zoo and hobbyist communities from attending a lot of conferences and networking events and naturally my phone started ringing with requests to give a presentation, go help someone with pet reptile advise, or do a talk for the local WI and so on- I realised I needed a contact card, but what to put on it as a tag line to help people remember me? I printed my own cards on my home printer with my name, details and a picture of my face (with a frog sitting on it) and the tag line "Reptiles Etc" as it was the channel most people would remember me by, it just made sense. The phone kept ringing and I took more and more bits and pieces in my spare time or in between jobs- a guest speaking spot here, a film job there, until unexpected life events took me to step away from full time zoo keeping (and a dream position as a senior keeper on the bird displays team at Colchester Zoo) late in 2017 and I threw myself head first into Reptiles Etc- an umbrella title to cover my cobbling together of all my favourite elements from every job I've ever done.

I've started this blog to share some insights into my world- the world of Reptiles Etc- which is not just a company or a job, but my entire way of life, to share the goings on from behind the scenes here at HQ, to behind the scenes of films and tv productions and from the field of herping and travel adventures, as well as adventures from outreach bookings. I'll no doubt also talk about animal conservation initiatives and share some ideas about how we can live more sustainably and conscientiously, and act to preserve threatened species and environments.

What would you like to hear about? Drop a comment or message as I will always gladly take inspiration for sharing a behind the scenes story or subject matter.

- Grace

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