THURSDAY, November 24, 2011
INSIDE X Cuisine/B17 X Classiﬁeds/B21 SECTION
A&E co-ordinator: Dale Bass firstname.lastname@example.org Ph: 374-7467 Ext: 220
Living life on the real wild side By Dale Bass STAFF REPORTER
All his mother wanted to do was talk Jeff McKay out of buying a crocodile. But, the then-13year-old was determined. So, his mom made arrangements for him to have a tour of a museum of natural sciences in his hometown of Ottawa, asking the man giving the tour to help her talk her son out of the purchase. Things didn’t work out the way mom wanted, McKay said. Instead, the tour guide was impressed with the young teen’s knowledge of the reptile world and asked McKay if he’d like to volunteer there. “I did end up buying the crocodile,” he said — and, two years later, put on his first reptile show at the neighbourhood library, charging $20 for the two-hour presentation. He was 15 years old then and his career path, in his mind, was set. McKay started touring Ontario libraries presenting his show and, 25 years later, he’s
now Safari Jeff and he travels the country with his collection of reptiles, introducing other eager young minds to the world that fascinated him, too, at an early age. His show, combined with a second, static one he operates, is now on at Sahali Mall, where kids can hold a tortoise, touch a snake and learn all about reptiles. They can colour pictures of reptiles, look at books — including some that have 3D effects — about them and sit on bales of hay to ask McKay questions. He’s doing it for several reasons, not the least of which it’s the first time he’s brought both sides of his program together. McKay’s also done it not so much as a challenge to the city’s bylaws about exotic animals as to show city hall that there are two sides to the argument about pets with shells and scales. He said he’s had several visits from and conversations with local bylaw officers and has been happy with how they’ve
Safari Jeff McKay holds an African-spurred Tortoise, one of many reptiles he has on display at the Sahali Mall in a display that continues to January. Max Ritchie (right) is one of the many children who have gone to learn more about the world of reptiles and other animals, taking a moment to look through the lens of a microscope. Dave Eagles/KTW
worked with him to ensure the show can go on. Those bylaws are specific, McKay said, and he’s had to make some reptile changes to meet them. For example, it’s OK to have a Cuban iguano in Kamloops but not a green one. X See SHOWS B4
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Published on Dec 1, 2011