Bean Museum provides free reptile show

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The Monte L. Bean Life Science Museum has been under construction for more than a year, but students can still get their fill of exotic animals by attending the museum’s free traveling reptile show, provided for home evening groups.

Josh Day with Simon, a Red Tegu lizard. (Photo by Sam Paskins)

Two reptile shows take place every Monday night. Students wanting to sign up for the activity can visit the museum’s website to reserve a Monday night on a first-come, first-serve basis.

Katy Knight, the education administrator at the Bean Museum, said when the museum closed, staff still wanted to provide their services to the community.

“When we were getting ready for the museum to close we were trying to think of ways that we could reach out to the community,” Knight said. “Monday nights were our most popular night when we were open. We thought we would offer free shows on Monday nights for groups or families in Provo.”

Instead of having people go to the museum to learn about reptiles, the educators will drive anywhere in Provo to provide a free live reptile show for a group of at least 15 people, but no more than 100. The show can be held in a home, church or dorm room and includes at least one turtle, lizard and snake, according to Knight.

“It’s our most popular show,” Knight said. “All of our live animal shows are interesting and fun, but this is one that focuses in on the different kinds of reptiles.”

During the week, the animals are kept at the Bean Museum. The animals have recently been moved to a brand new space that has been constructed for the updated museum.

“We have a live animal facility here, and we have students who work as caretakers and come in every day to feed and clean their cages,” Knight said.

Josh Day, a BYU junior linguistics major from Turlock, Calif., has been an educator at the museum for 10 months and loves that he gets to interact with kids and animals. He shares fun facts about the animals that are brought to the shows that participants might find fascinating.

Josh and Otis (African Spurred Tortoise)
Josh Day with Otis, an African Spurred Tortoise. (Photo by Sam Paskins)

“Snakes don’t actually unhinge their jaws; instead their jaw has special ligaments that allow them to stretch it and even open their mouths sideways,” Day said. “If we could open our mouths like snakes we’d be able to fit a watermelon in our mouths.”

Day added that the reptile show is meant to put people in direct contact with reptiles, making the show a unique experience.

“The live animal shows are designed for audience participation. We’ve recently updated them to be even more interactive,” he said. “Depending on the size of the group, everyone gets to pet at least one of the live animals that we bring, sometimes more.”

Lindsey Harris, a BYU senior human development major from Fruit Heights, appreciates the fact that students have access to a free museum that seeks to provide the community with great learning opportunities.

“I think that we are pretty lucky to have a museum that caters to us,” Harris said. “You have to pay for most museums, but this one is free. Even when it’s closed, they still provide us with unique opportunities.”

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