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World Of Reptiles program becomes an island tradition

By Staff | Aug 10, 2010

John Storms brought his "World Of Reptiles" show — and his 14-foot albino Burmese python Jessie — to the Sanibel Recreation Center last week.

At the beginning of his program, John Storms asked the crowd of about 30 youngsters gathered at the Sanibel Recreation Center if any of them had seen his "World Of Reptiles" presentation before. Almost half of them raised their hands.

That wasn’t a surprise to Storms, a Fort Myers resident who has been conducting his entertaining yet educational program for almost three decades. In fact, just before the show, one of the Rec Center’s camp counselors told him that he remembered seeing his show when he was a kid.

"I really enjoy working with kids AND animals," said Storms. "It really is a lot of fun. Doing this never gets old."

On Friday, Storms’ "World Of Reptiles" performance included seven creatures of various species and size. They included a red rat snake, an Australian bearded dragon, a pine snake, gopher tortoise, crocodile, alligator snapping turtle and — always the most popular reptile in his collection — "Jessie," a 14-foot, 120 pound albino Burmese python.

As Storms introduced each critter, hidden inside medium and large wooden crates, the children — and some of the adults attending the show — "oooh’d" and "aaah’d" at every reveal. Delivered with high energy and perfect comedic timing, Storms shared some interesting information about each of his reptiles: where they come from, what they like to eat and what to do should they ever encounter one of them in the wild.

Storms holds a 4-year-old crocodile, one of seven animals featured during his program.

"I’m not one to say that I liked to play with reptiles growing up, because my dad was scared of snakes," said Storms, who travels between Collier County and various central Florida locales throughout the year delivering his one-man show. "When I went to college, I major in Zoology… but then I went into construction."

Now in his 28th year of delivering his "World Of Reptiles" program at schools, libraries, recreation and community centers, Storms appears to feed off of the energy he receives from his young audience members.

"I’m doing a show for kids where they’re getting an education and still having a lot of fun," he added.

Dave DeFonzo, youth program coordinator at the Rec Center, has worked with Storms for more than 10 years.

"This is a show that we look forward to all year long," said DeFonzo. "We try to put John on the schedule towards the end of the summer, so we let the anticipation keep on growing."

This alligator snapping turtle, which weighs 90 pounds, can be found in lakes and rivers.

For additional information on John Storms’ "World Of Reptiles" program, send an e-mail to johnstorms2009@comcast.net or call 239-936-4382.