Snakes Alive! Nothing to fear here
(CNN) -- Admit it. You don't like snakes. They're slimy and evil, and many a viper would enjoy biting you and injecting you with a powerful dose of venom that would send you to your death bed.
You're not alone in your thinking. These snake stereotypes are common -- and wrong.
That is precisely why The Academy of Natural Sciences in Philadelphia has created a new exhibit called "Snakes Alive," a collection of venomous and non-venomous snakes found in North America. The museum wants to turn your blind fear of snakes into a respect for the beauty and necessity of snakes on this planet.
"Almost everyone has some sort of fear of snakes," says Jackie Genovesi, the director of living exhibits at the museum. "We want to dispel the myths that venomous snakes are horrible creatures that want to bite people. Venomous snakes serve a purpose. Our rodent population would be out of control and would be eating up all our crops if snakes didn't exist.
"They're really beautiful creatures."
"Snakes Alive" takes visitors on an interactive experience with the reptiles. The exhibit features 100 live venomous snakes that can be viewed up-close, with only a pane of glass separating visitors from the fangs of a cottonmouth, copperhead or coral snake.
"I think it's neat to see the copperheads and cottonmouths up close," says Genovesi. "Some people only hear about them. It's great to see one up close and know what it looks like."
Visitors can also hold non-venomous snakes, and those who don't like snakes might be in for a surprise. Snakes, you see, aren't slimy at all. In fact, their skin is very dry.
The exhibit also includes a 25-foot model of a diamondback rattlesnake that kids can crawl through, a "simulated bite station" that allows you to test your reflexes against the speed of a striking rattlesnake, and an attraction that lets you see the world through infrared snake vision.
The exhibit also explores snakes in world mythology, culture and religion, and offers advice on how to identify venomous snakes.
"Snakes Alive" slithers at The Academy of Natural Sciences through May 9, 1999. Admission to the museum is $8.50 for ages 13 and over, $7.75 for senior citizens and military personnel, $7.50 for children 3-12. (215) 299-1000.
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