Safari Jeff McKay explains how Russell

Reptiles roll into town

Red Deer is the first stop on Safari Jeff’s annual cross-country safari.

Red Deer is the first stop on Safari Jeff’s annual cross-country safari.

Jeff McKay has crisscrossed Canada for 25 years, sharing his love of reptiles in stage shows at fairs, shopping centres and other venues.

“I try to make it more fascinating every year and keep it interesting for me as well,” says the 40-year-old.

“The same question, but from a different person, makes it unique. I’ve had a lucky life.”

About 60 people came to his first Animology show in a theatre created from Parkland Mall’s vacant northeast store. The 30-minute presentation is jammed with facts about reptilian life, his non-stop narrative covering the habits, habitat, physiology and biology of the many reptiles he owns.

Video presentations he and wife Shannon shoot themselves in Canada, South America and Africa describe the lives of primates, birds and other animals outside the reptile realm.

“The audio-visual aspect brings in other types of animals. It broadens the experience.”

McKay’s season runs from February to April in Western Canada and July through September in the east. Wife Shannon now stays home with their children Charlie, 5, and Ruby, 2, in Kamloops — a desert geography well suited to caring for reptiles.

That leaves Safari Jeff to travel alone in his big tour bus to keep his precious cargo of cold-blooded critters warm.

“I know them all by smell and you have to keep them clean.”

His entourage includes lizards, turtles, snakes of all sizes, an African spur tortoise named Father Time and even a small crocodile.

A trailer contains the backdrops and other props he needs.

“The show’s the easiest part. I’m a truck driver, a mover, an entertainer, I do it all.”

Safari Jeff enjoyed his first trip to the Red Deer for last year’s Westerner Days and will return for a second year this summer.

The Parkland Mall shows run today and tomorrow at 1:30 and 6:30 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday at 1:30 and 3:30 p.m. Though admission is free, donations to the Red Deer Food Bank are encouraged.

rfiedler@bprda.wpengine.com

Just Posted

Red Deer council says ‘yes’ to Riverside Meadows upgrades, ‘no’ to fence at CP Rail Bridge

Fence will cause social problems to move elsewhere, says Coun. Lee

Highway 2/Gaetz Avenue interchange is now open

Work began on the $80-million interchange in 2016

Witness testimony delayed until Tuesday in Red Deer murder trial

Jury dismissed on Monday morning while evidence issues discussed

Failing Kinex Arena will need replacement soon: city manager

Red Deer’s capital budget talks start amid gloomy forecasts

Curlers’ behaviour ‘unacceptable’ and ‘disrespectful’ at Red Deer Curling Classic

‘You don’t kick around other players’ bags, it’s disrespectful and we expect better of our players’

Tkachuk, Gaudreau lead Flames over Golden Knights with career highs

Flames 7, Golden Knights 2 CALGARY — Matthew Tkachuk and Johnny Gaudreau… Continue reading

Death of young Thai kickboxer brings focus on dangers

BANGKOK — The sight of two preteen boys pummeling each other with… Continue reading

Teenage driver survives spectacular crash at F3 Macau GP

MACAU — Teenage driver Sophia Floersch was set to undergo surgery Monday… Continue reading

David’s Bridal files for bankruptcy, but your order is safe

David’s Bridal is filing for bankruptcy protection but there is no danger… Continue reading

Taiwan president defends pro-independence film award winner

BEIJING — Taiwan’s president expressed her support for the prestigious Golden Horse… Continue reading

Pamela Anderson calls Australian PM’s comments ‘smutty’

LOS ANGELES — Pamela Anderson is criticizing Australia’s prime minister for making… Continue reading

Trump on Khashoggi death tape: ‘No reason for me to hear it’

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump said there is no reason for him… Continue reading

Searchers in California fires step up efforts ahead of rain

CHICO, Calif. — Searchers combing a Northern California town levelled by a… Continue reading

Most Read