A love of dinosaurs at age 5 led Bruce Shwedick into a lifetime of work with reptiles.
The Plant City man, who operates Reptiles Discovery, recently brought his traveling reptile show to the Hugh Embry Branch Library in Dade City.
Shwedick’s show features gentle, captive-born reptiles, which he presents in a safe, non-threatening manner to people at his shows.
He focuses on educating the audience, with the purpose of helping them understand these often misunderstood creatures. His talks emphasize the need for safety and for conservation.
Since Reptile Discovery was founded in 1994, Shwedick has put on shows in more than 1,000 schools, in 45 states, and in Washington D.C.
Shwedick, a Maryland native, said he was just 10 when he followed in his older brother Michael’s footsteps in raising reptiles. Michael is also a reptile specialist, and is the founder of Reptile World Inc., in Maryland.
The brothers enjoyed visiting the National Zoo and the Smithsonian in Washington D.C..
Shwedick said he still has fond memories of those experiences today.
The reptile handler began presenting educational shows in 1974.
He has traveled to Africa, South America and throughout Asia to learn more about these creatures, by speaking to people in those locales and observing reptiles in the wild.
The reputation he has developed because of his knowledge about reptiles has led to shows at theme parks and to the role of reptile curator at Cypress Parks. He even was featured on Nickelodeon’s “LIVEWIRE” many years ago.
Recently Shwedick — also known as Mr. Bruce — shared his knowledge and showed off his reptiles at the Hugh Embry Library, 14215 Fourth St., in Dade City.
He captivated the crowed with a mix of personal stories, reptile facts, safety tips and a presentation of live reptiles.
Children and adults in the audience had the chance to touch many of the reptiles he exhibited.
One of those was ‘Baby,’ a yellow-footed tortoise, who was gentle and graceful, and loved to eat bananas.
The reptile handler also brought “Chopstick,” a docile, Chinese alligator, that he’s been taking to shows for more than 20 years.
Another reptile he displayed was “Alexander the Great,” an alligator snapping turtle from the Okefenokee Swamp. His appearance was brief because the swift-moving turtle was not quite as friendly as the others.
Mr. Bruce also showed off a blue-tongued skink lizard, a corn snake, a West African slender-snouted crocodile, and at the show’s conclusion, a 14-foot-long albino reticulated python, named “Banana Boy.”
Published August 14, 2019