Scared of the reptile house? Not this zookeeper

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – A lot of visitors too the Buffalo Zoo are too afraid to even go inside the reptile house with all of the snakes an lizards that live inside. It’s a harsh reality that Zookeeper Katrina McIntosh is desperately working to change.

As a reptile and amphibian keeper, it’s her job to care for animals like a spiny tailed lizard named Hercules.

“He loves the dandelions, he loves the grass. He’ll just go around and munch and it’s pretty cute when he does that,” McIntosh told News 4.

If you visit the Buffalo zoo, you may see Katrina climbing into the exhibits to clean them and feed the animals. “Sometimes I will just pull an animal out and put it in front of them and I get applause and it’s quite funny,” Katrina said of the crowds of children that always gather around when she appears.

McIntosh has to be especially careful at work, as she has to work closely with many venomous animals, such as rattlesnakes. When News 4 asked visitors at the zoo what they would do if “handling venomous snakes” was in their job description. One young boy said he might quit.

But Katrina wouldn’t dream of leaving this job. Not only does she care for animals, but she is involved in a breeding program with a rare species of Puerto Rican toads.

“Katrina is our rock star amphibian keeper,” said her manager, Penny Felski. “She can tell if a toad is having an off day. If a lizard is having an off day. If a snake looks different.”

“People just don’t understand the importance of the animals I work with,” McIntosh explained. “A lot of people think oh, they’re smiley and gross and they’re mean, when really that isn’t the case at all. And if I can get someone to walk in this reptile house and at least respect these animals. They don’t have to love them. But at least respect their place and their niche. I’ve done my job.”

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