I breathed a sigh of relief. The snake was opaque and couldn't be taken out of his tank. I had been losing sleep over the idea of photographing this particular situation and now it seemed like I was in a safe zone. WHEW! Instead, we moved to a tank labeled "Uromastyx". Crystal fearlessly picked up Vincent and packed him in a carry case with the help of one of the Zoo Keepers, Matt. As our crew exited the "zoo's kitchen" one of Crystal's fellow Junior Zoo Keeper pals was outside showing off a hissing cockroach to visitors with her bare hand. I stared in disbelief when she raised a hand to her lips to kiss the roach.
Vincent ended up being a sweet reptile that exceeded my expectations. He confidently made eye contact with my camera and even seemed to know how I wanted him to pose. I decided to overlook the fact that he tends to pee when moved. By the time we had snapped shots of a rabbit, goats and Vincent I was ready to crawl into the turtle yard with Matt and Crystal. It's not everyday that I encounter so many animals and I was growing braver by the moment. Crystal had a natural ease with each of them and clearly they felt the same about her. She's volunteered at the Miller Park Zoo for years, clearly she loves it, and it's the perfect fit for her.
Her smile comes easy, and her carefree laugh bounces around her. By the time we ended her session I had hoped some of her fearlessness had transferred to me. I found myself researching "Uromastyx" later that evening and laughing to myself over Crystal's playful antics.
Congrats on your senior year, Crystal, and a bright and interesting future in Zoology!