Newport News, VA (March 16, 2022) – Experience a close encounter of the reptile and amphibian kind at the Virginia Living Museum March 26 and 27. A wide variety of native and exotic reptiles and amphibians will be on display and featured in live animal programs, making this event one of the largest collections in Virginia. Special guest exhibitors such as Reptile Education of Virginia (REV), the Virginia Herpetological Society, Peninsula Master Naturalists, Sandy Bottom Nature Park, Wildlife Response, Inc., and Christopher Newport University’s biology department will also bring animals from their collections.
Families with children will enjoy The Really Radical Reptile Review puppet show supported by the Newport News Arts Commission, behind the scenes tours, Noisy Neighbors: A Frog Story planetarium show, swamp turtle feeding, and alligator feeding. Guests can also sign up for more information on how to participate in the museum’s ongoing citizen science projects: FrogWatch USA and Turtle Census.
“This weekend highlights everything about reptiles and amphibians in Virginia, from the special adaptations developed in our region, to the roles they play in our ecosystem,” says Kortney Jaworski, Herpetology Curator at the Virginia Living Museum. “This is also a great place for children and adults to learn how to identify venomous and nonvenomous animals, the difference between reptiles and amphibians, and even get some tips about responsible pet ownership.”
Twix the Two-Headed Turtle Among the Crowd
A two-headed red-eared slider turtle named Twix will be among the many animals on exhibit over the weekend. The red-eared slider is native to the Midwestern United States but the species has spread to many parts of the country through the pet trade. The yellow-belly slider is native to Virginia, but hybridization between the two species has been seen.
Twix, the two-headed red-eared slider, is part of the Virginia Living Museum’s collection of non-releasable animals because it represents an opportunity to educate the public on reptile development and biodiversity conservation efforts.
James Weinpress, Senior Director of Animal Welfare, explains that Twix’s story is a perfect example of the work that goes into caring for animals at the Virginia Living Museum. “Twix’s public debut is two years in the making. Animal Welfare staff spent the necessary time to observe and understand this turtle’s abilities, and evaluate the overall health of this truly unique reptile. We want to ensure Twix is able to carry out natural turtle behaviors such as swimming, basking, and eating. It’s a combination of understanding the needs of a species and also getting to know the individual!”
Advance online registration is recommended for this event at www.thevlm.org. Limited Behind-the-Scenes Tours tickets are available at 11:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. on Saturday and at 11:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. on Sunday. Reserve your tickets now!
The Virginia Living Museum is a leader in natural living exhibits! Native Virginia mammals, plants, marine life, reptiles, amphibians, and birds are presented and honored for their ability to connect people to nature through educational experiences that promote conservation. An independent 501(c)(3) organization, the Museum is a successful public/private partnership with the City of Newport News and all guests. Accredited by both the Association of Zoos and Aquariums and the American Alliance of Museums, the Museum’s high standards are its hallmark, as only fourteen institutions share this designation in the country. It is a certified Virginia Green attraction dedicated to environmentally friendly practices. Located at 524 J. Clyde Morris Blvd., Newport News (I-64, exit 258-A) it is open 9 to 5 daily. Learn more at thevlm.org, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, or call 757-595-1900.