It is part of the skill of the current staff who look after the residents of the Reptile House in the Bronx Zoo that they present their fearsome charges in a way that brings these creaturea alive for their present day admirers from small children to curious adults.
Raymond Ditmas who virtually singlehandedly established the Reptile House at the Zoo and then publicized it extensively, would thoroughly approve of these modern day promoters of the joys of exploring and discovering the habits and nature of reptiles of all kinds. From when he was very young, he immersed himself in the world of reptiles to the detriment of his regular schoolwork. He would wander Central Park catching reptiles and slowly built up a collection which took over the whole top floor of his parent’s apartment.
Fortunately he landed the job which was to propel him from gifted amateur to full time hepetologist or reptile expert. He was employed by the Bronx Zoo just before it opened in 1899 to work in the then new Reptile house and then established it’s importance much more fully by donating his own 45 reptiles including by that time dangerous rattlesnakes and copperheads. He eventually took charge completely and established not just the Reptile House but also the whole Zoo on the map of major NYC attractions using clever publicity.
Despite the demands of his various senior positions at the zoo, he never stopped his own vivid interest in reptiles. One of the things he did was to establish a center for extracting venom from snakes so that people who were bitten could be helped. NYC has a lot ot thank Raymond Ditmas for, not just his contribution to the Bronx Zoo but as a role model for following your passion and building your life around it, a very New York way of life.