The Reptile Zoo Offers Much-Needed Shelter for Animals and Visiting Families Alike

We had another scorcher this week (weather, please see calendar, ASAP!), and that made me think of all the lovely local options we have for getting out of the heat and into the A/C… or come November in and out of the rainy REAL fall weather once it finally arrives!

No way am I getting near that monitor lizard, Mom, please don’t make me!

Well, OK, T will pet him, maybe just this once… actually as it turns out, Frank the monitor lizard down at The Reptile Zoo in Fountain Valley (CA) is as tame – and full of fame – as they come. He’s none other than the popular “Mr. Kipling” on the hit Disney Channel television series, “JESSIE.”

One such place that T and I enjoyed a few weeks ago during weather just like this was Fountain Valley’s (CA) Reptile Zoo. Located on Brookhurst Street just south of the 405 freeway in North Orange County, The Reptile Zoo offers visitors of all ages a unique and interactive animal experience. Here, you can pet a monitor lizard (a very famous monitor lizard actually, it’s Frank (AKA Mr. Kipling) of the hit television series “JESSIE” on The Disney Channel); Frank freely walks among visitors up and down the zoo’s aisles and is extremely people friendly, so not to worry, RMT’ers.

That’s Twinkie, the largest snake on record at almost 350 lbs. and over 20 feet long. The Albino Reticulated Python is on permanent display at The Reptile Zoo in Fountain Valley (CA), but has guest starred on late-night television shows such as “The Tonight Show with Conan O’Brien” so there’s a good chance you’ve seen her somewhere before.

Thelma and Louise is the two-headed Texas Rat Snake with California residency down at The Reptile Zoo. It’s not a trick or a joke, RMT’ers: This snake really does have two heads!

This handsome iguana now calls The Reptile Zoo home.

Guillermo the Panther Chameleon was one of my favorite reptiles in residence at The Reptile Zoo.

Also on display are Twinkie, the world’s largest snake, and Thelma and Louise, the two-headed Texas Rat Snake. Both are just a couple of the dozens (if not hundreds) of animals behind the glass at The Reptile Zoo. Animals come into the zoo in many ways; while a great number are rescues or species of the backyard variety, a handful of others are rarer or other endangered species that zoo staff and scientists hope to learn more from and in turn educate others about their unique offerings.

T holds a snake (forget which kind, sorry, there were so many!) on a recent visit to The Reptile Zoo.

T gives a baby alligator some brief attention during a meet and greet down at The Reptile Zoo.

T’s buddy gets up close and personal with an unusual lizard at The Reptile Zoo.

OK, so I did touch some snakes… some of the shed skins anyway! But seriously, I just didn’t want to cut the kids in line to handle the live creatures. Yes, that’s it!

Patrons are also encouraged to hold and touch a variety of species at any given time depending on what staff has on hand that day (literally, in their hands). On this visit, T got to hold a couple of snakes and pet a number of lizards. I, however, opted to stay behind the camera and capture T’s encounters at a distance.

For an extra three bucks or so, you can feed some of the animals at The Reptile Zoo. Very fun!

Feeding the tortoises down at The Reptile Zoo.

It’s always feeding time down at The Reptile Zoo.

The tortoises are happy campers down at The Reptile Zoo, maybe because they are very well-fed by its patrons!

We wrapped up our visit to The Reptile Zoo by feeding the giant land tortoises in their habitats at the zoo’s entrance. There are two areas where kids and adults can feed lettuce and other veggies on extension rods to the animals for a nominal fee. In fact, some visitors only come down to the Reptile Zoo to buy tortoise food and stay for a brief feeding rather than a longer visit through the zoo itself. While I can see more local residents doing this, we opted to stick around for about an hour or two to enjoy the entire facility, and I am glad we did.

The Reptile Zoo is in an unassuming spot in a strip mall off of the east side of Brookhurst Street in Fountain Valley, CA. They have plans to expand into additional storefronts next to where they are currently (under that blank sign pictured at left).

The entrance of The Reptile Zoo also features a nice open pond and fountain full of Red-Ear Sliders (a variety of turtle).

The Reptile Zoo is in the process of expanding to the storefront next door, so admission at this time is only $5 for everyone (kids three and under are free!). But even for $10 I would still come down and support this local reptile conservation effort, because that is exactly what it is. The zoo regularly holds educational and other fun activities and events for families (see the zoo’s Facebook page for the latest information on upcoming events), and if we lived closer, we’d definitely have an annual membership.

A view down the main hall of The Reptile Zoo. The zoo is all indoors, and its space is an easy-to-navigate and snaked configuration of hallways lined with aquariums on all sides. The zoo is home to dozens if not hundreds of creatures big and small.

What are some of your favorite indoor destinations to get out of the hot, hot heat (or the rain, that works, too!)? Stay cool, RMT’ers… or warm and dry depending where you are this weekend!

Go see Rusty the Red Iguana down at The Reptile Zoo.

The Reptile Zoo is at 18822 Brookhurst St., Fountain Valley, CA, 92708. The zoo is open to the public Monday through Saturday, 11a.m. to 7:30p.m., and Sundays 11a.m. to 5:30p.m. They also offer private party packages, such as children’s birthday parties. Donations of any size are also accepted for the direct benefit of the zoo’s recent expansion efforts, educational efforts, and care and feeding of the animals. You can contact the zoo directly either by phone or email here. Thanks again to the Plan A Day Out website for referring us to the zoo in the first place!

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