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Wrangler reptile show at the Yorkton Exhibition

Main focus of show is educating youth on how they can help the environment.

YORKTON – The 2024 Yorkton Exhibition played host to a multitude of entertainment and activities during last week's festivities including an exotic reptile show.

The program, intended for youths and dubbed the Adventure Wrangler Reptile Show, is the product of Saskatchewan-based animal lover Elisa Wilke or Wrangler Elisa as she's known to the show-goers.

For the past 15 years, Wilke has owned, operated and performed for the program. The touring reptile show is one of the only of its kind in Saskatchewan, which means Wilke spends her summer months touring and showcasing her animals throughout the province and other parts of Canada.

In total, Wilke said she has 42 pets ranging from reptiles, mammals and even tarantulas that she cares for and that take part in the show.

"All of our pets — the ones that enjoy doing shows — stay with us," told Wilke in an interview with SASKTODAY.ca.

Wilke, who performs several other shows — including a forest fairy show, a mermaid show and a dinosaur show — said all the performances are "based on helping our environment."

"I think as we talk in our fairy show — every animal has a role in the wild. Every animal is important in their own way," said Wilke, adding, "just because we don't like something we shouldn't squish it or get rid of it. We should always remember to learn about that animal before we make a decision about that."

"Whether we're talking in our dinosaur show about preserving our fossils and not just seeing a fossil and thinking 'oh let me just go and take that out' ... let's see what kind of fossil this is — if I can take this out without it breaking apart. We don't have any more dinosaurs to gain more bones so let's do it properly," said Wilke.

"To our fairy shows — cleaning up our forests. Leaving a very minimal footprint behind. To our waterways in our mermaid shows — there's many garbage islands in the ocean now," said Wilke, adding, "teaching people to really take care of their environment and our future generation will help our environment in the future," said Wilke.

And the show isn't just about respecting and maintaining the environment, it's also about confronting fears, like one would experience with spiders or snakes.

"A fear is created so easily for a child. It takes just one parent going 'don't touch that' and that kid for the next few times — if they don't have a positive experience — it can actually create that fear," said Wilke.

"Learning to dispel that fear or work with kids — take that extra few minutes for a child that might be a little bit nervous around a snake to show them and help them understand that they are not as bad as you might see in a movie or maybe because someone else in their family might be scared," added Wilke.

"I always say your fears are something that can hold you back but it's your choice if you let them," said Wilke.

Having visited numerous locations over the past several weeks including Moose Jaw, Swift Current, Cold Lake, Pierceland and Yorkton, one would ask how the animals stay motivated throughout their time on the road.

"The wonderful thing about having an awesome partner at home  — my husband is a wonderful helper — if I need when I'm running all over the provinces — he'll bring me new animals so we're not always using the same ones," said Wilke, noting that the animals at her home base have a dedicated caretaker for when she's on the road.

"Because everybody needs a break. The only one that doesn't get a break is me," said Wilke with a laugh.

For more information on Wilke's Adventure Wrangler Reptile Show, visit the website at saskreptileshow.ca.