From turtles to toads, Lloyd Center presents ‘reptile petting zoo’

Feb 11, 2024

Some people love dogs, some people love cats, and others prefer the cold-blooded animals that crawl, swim and slither. 

The Lloyd Center for the Environment hosted a petting zoo of sorts on Saturday, Feb. 10, that introduced children to all manner of reptiles and sea life. Bruce Traban, an educator and naturalist at the Lloyd Center, led children through a room filled with aquariums and terrariums. 

Traban began the afternoon by introducing the kids to an Eastern Box Turtle named Norbert. Sitting around a table, Traban demonstrated to the kids and parents how turtles can flip themselves over using their powerful neck muscles should they ever find themselves upside down.

Ryan Sylvia brought his daughters Autumn and Beatriz to the event that catered to younger children 6 to 10 years old. Ryan said he’s been coming to the Lloyd Center since before he can remember. 

“I love this place,” Ryan said.

Ryan once considered pursuing a career in marine biology, but after a few long trips on research vessels, he decided to go with a different career. 

“I decided I don’t want to spend months on end on a boat counting fish,” he said. 

Ryan said that educational events like this are great for sparking children’s curiosity and potentially helping them choose a career path. And at the very least, it gets them out of the house.

“It’s better than TV,” he said, adding that he’s thinking about enrolling his daughters in summer camp at the Lloyd Center. 

Jared Alves brought his daughter and wife to the exhibit as part of a family outing to learn more about nature. As a family, they spend a lot of time hiking trails in the area and learning about the native plants and animals. His daughter, Acadia, has participated in the Lloyd Center’s camp programs.

“It’s always a good thing to learn about the animals in the area and get to see them up close,” Jared said. 

At camp, Acadia said she enjoys nature walks and catching fish and shrimp by the river. She said her favorite animals in the Lloyd Center exhibit are Bubba the Brown Bullhead Catfish and Norbert the Eastern Box Turtle.  

“It’s really fun here,” Acadia said of her experiences at the Lloyd Center. 

Most of the animals in the Lloyd Center exhibit are native to Massachusetts, although the exhibit also features some invasive species like the Asian Shore Crab. 

Indigenous to the shores of Russia and China, the Asian Shore Crab was first identified in America in the late 1980s. Traban explained that Asian Shore Crabs have overproduced and outcompeted native species for food. 

“It’s really important to know what’s native in your area,” Traban said of the importance of the Lloyd Center’s educational events.