Aisles in the reptile spirit room at the University of Texas, Arlington
The Head of the Department of Biology at the University of Texas at Arlington is Jonathan A. Campbell, who has spoken at the Biology of the Rattlesnakes symposium and who I met at the BOR barbeque at the Chiricahua Desert Museum.
The Biological Curator and Collections Manager of the Amphibian & Reptile Diversity Research Center at the University of Texas at Arlington, and our host for our visit, is Carl J. Franklin who provided a potted history of the collection, going back to William F. Pyburn in 1956. The collection, which now numbers in excess of 115,000 specimens, is one of the largest in the United States. In 2004 it was moved to the purpose built Center that we visited.
Carl and his colleagues then gave us a tour of the amphibian and reptile spirit roomsand then everyone set off to discover how well represented were their own favourite taxa.
Located in an old warehouse at 1801 North Griffin Street, Dallas, the Dallas World Aquarium contains much more than 'just fish'. It is a veritable Aladdin's Cave of species and a real maze to negotiate, visitors not knowing what is around the next corner or on the next level up or down.
The highlights are the Mundo Maya and the Orinoco Rainforest, but it was all so busy the day we visited that photography was really not possible.
In the late afternoon of Friday 29th July we visited:
The impressive MOLA signage deserves a second examination
Our final excursion was a barbeque at MOLA - the Museum Of Living Art, the new exhibit at Fort Worth Zoo and what am impressive exhibition this turned out to be. A 30,000 square foot facility containing over 100 amphibian and reptile species represented by some 850 individual living specimens - the Living Art of the title.
With flashing red eyes this Fort Worth iguana reminded me of the bearded dragon glowering over the frontage at the Australian Reptile Park, Gosford, NSW,
and maybe the cobra that used to act as a landmark at
Miami Serpentarium in the 1980s.
Brass cobra doorhandles at the entry. I had an old pair of similar doorhandles, but of Egyptian cobras facing outwards - I wish I could find them.
The public are always interested in the birth/hatching of baby reptiles and how they are raised.
Through these doors, or in the surrounding enclosures, are some of the most curious and iconic reptiles in the world: Crocodile monitor, Chinese crocodile lizard, Boelen's python, Ganges gharial, Komodo dragon, Tentacled snakes, Bushmaster, Utila Island iguana, Grand Caymen blue iguana, Galapagos giant tortoises, all displayed in high quality exhibits.
The author attempting to photograph the Chinese crocodile lizards.
Photo: Bill Love
Chinese crocodile lizard, Shinisaurus crocodilurus a species I had not seen before
Ganges gharial, Gavialis gangeticus
The Ganges gharial exhibit is one of several community exhibits in the MOLA and an extremely impressive indoor-outdoor design. Here Bill Love marvels at the turtles, who marvel back! Photo: Bill Love