ENFIELD, CT — If it crawls, slithers or hisses, chances are you’ll find it at a unique zoo and learning center soon to open in the South Road plaza: Riverside Reptiles Education Center. The first business of its kind in town is slated to open to the public Oct. 10.
Over 50 species of amphibians and reptiles will be on display in the Exhibit Gallery, including an 8-foot alligator, venomous snakes, various types of turtles and a variety of lizards.
Owner Brian Kleinman has always had a fascination for animals, with a special soft spot for the “creepy crawlies,” he recently said in a newsletter for the White Memorial Conservation Center. With an educational background in biology, he began to achieve his dream of educating others about the animals he loves. He has worked at a variety of zoos and educational centers, including the Roaring Brook Nature Center and the Science Center of Connecticut (now the Children’s Museum).
Riverside Reptiles started in Kleinman’s home, where he dedicated a bedroom to housing animals to use for educational programs. He dreamed of being able to open a dedicated space that would allow him to house animals and provide a backdrop for reptile education. That dream will come to fruition upon the opening of the new facility.
He began renovating a 13,000 square foot space, which formerly housed the Enfield Child Development Center, until the global coronavirus pandemic prevented the opening of its brick and mortar location. Six months later, the venue is nearly complete and ready to open its doors to the public.
Education Director Teralyn LaChance has created virtual learning options appropriate for various age ranges intended for use by educators, parents of homeschooled students, or community
organizations. She is a certified teacher in Connecticut, ensuring that each virtual session meets the age range for those in attendance. Education offerings can be hosted on a variety of platforms, including Zoom, Google Meets, Microsoft Teams and Facebook Live.
Ticket information is available here. Information about memberships may be found here. For more, visit www.riversidereptileseducationcenter.com.
Video: Teralyn LaChance
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This article originally appeared on the Enfield Patch