Expanding the breeding programs as well as the educational offerings, and eventually the facility itself, are among the Creswells' goals. The board just hired executive director Eric Tobin, and the center has zookeepers on staff and many volunteers. "We'd really like to become a resource for the community and partner with other organizations," Tobin says. Right now, he says, the zoo is drawing people from a forty-five- to sixty-mile radius and is on track to bring in some 30,000 visitors in its first year. "We're working to increase our level of sustainability and hope to double the size of our exhibit space so we can expand our rehab and rescue efforts."
Of course, some visitors just like to gaze at creatures like Lawan, the eighteen-foot reticulated python, a gift from a snake breeder in Howell. Creswell says it takes three people to change the water in her locked enclosure--one to change the water and two to watch the 150-pound snake for any signs of sudden aggression. "You've just got to show respect for an animal that large," he says.
[Originally published in August, 2012.]