WANAQUE, N.J. — Bill Boesenberg of Snakes-N-Scales in Wanaque wants to change the way people think of reptiles.
Boesenberg, of Wanaque, started the educational animal program around 20 years ago to teach people about the brighter side of reptiles.
"This is my dream come true really," he told Daily Voice. "I love animals. I love children. To be able to put the two together, I just couldn't imagine doing anything else now."
The group sends its members and animals around to schools, events and other gatherings to teach people. All the animals were rescued, Boesenberg said.
The founder worked at a museum, zoo, animal hospital and university along his way to opening Snakes-N-Scales.
"The fact that we can touch so many people," Boesenberg said, "change people's mind and reduce the fear of what some people think are horrible animals, I really appreciate the ability to go into schools and talk to the kids. [We can] answer their questions and even if they don't remember the information they walk away with a good feeling about the animals."
Some of the members of the Snake-N-Scales family include a seven-foot-long alligator named Blue and a Burmese python, Hernia. Each have been with Boesenberg for around 20 years.
Boesenberg said movies and TV created some fear that animals like snakes and alligators are always out to get people.
"These animals, because they look aggressive or do have aggressive tendencies toward prey, people superimpose a will on them," he said. "It's the 'Jaws' ideal where if sharks really did what happened in the movie, no one would even go in the water. Obviously that's not happening."
MORE INFO: Visit Snakes-N-Scales website.