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Reptile Benefit Show Crawls to a Close

August 26, 1996|ED BOND

If you bring reptiles, the public will not necessarily come.

A benefit reptile show at CSUN over the weekend, which was to raise funds for Galapagos Islands preservation, drew far fewer attendees than hoped for, admitted Carl Hutter, the event organizer.

Attendance was so poor that he slashed the admission price from $7.50 on Saturday to $2 on Sunday. But only about 300 people viewed the show, called the Greater Los Angeles County Herpetological Expo Galapagos Island Benefit.

Even vendors, who had promised to bring animals for the event, stayed away. Of the 15 Hutter said he lined up, nine showed up on Saturday, and that was down to four Sunday.

But while things were looking bleak for Hutter, Shayne Acuna, 4, of North Hollywood was clearly enjoying himself on Sunday. He smiled broadly at the tree frog in his hands.

"Can I hear him go ribbit?" Shayne asked Diana Navarette, a friend of his mother's who had taken him to the show.

"I think he does that when he feels like it," she said.

Navarette decided to take the boy to the show because she knows he likes animals. "It's a lot better than in the zoos, because he can actually pick them up and hold them," she said.

That was an advantage that came with the low turnout, Hutter said. At a big show, vendors would not be so quick to let potential customers hold the animals, and visitors don't feel so rushed as they view the geckos, lizards and turtles on display.

"I think the most enjoyable thing to do is watching the kids," Hutter said. "I think if I do this again, I'll set up an area where they can hold the animals."

In all, Hutter said he raised only $200 for the Charles Darwin Foundation, which works to preserve the Galapagos. "And that's pretty much coming out of my pocket," Hutter said.

The event's troubles go back several months. Originally it was scheduled as an outdoor event last October, but Hutter was forced to cancel when a tent he had ordered to protect the reptiles did not arrive. Bad feelings from the last-minute cancellation back then probably kept vendors and customers away this time, Hutter guessed.

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