I will add one little side note.
I don't think that most people can understand my personal problems with Steve. I offer a great deal of educational programs. In fact Dept of Natural Resources told me that I clock more hours than anyone else in the state! And alot of that is Venomous Education. As a general rule, no venomous are removed from the enclosures during a program. But often, I let people go to the back of the room as i remove them from the tupperware and put them in the show enclosures. Gives them more of a feeling of how they move and react and definately helps in them paying attention during the programs. For one thing, not a program goes bywithout at LEAST 10 people asking about Steve or comparing me to him. Adults are not so bad. I can explain what each piece of handling equipment is and how and why I use it and explain WHY Steve has unsafe handling practices. Kids are the worst, particularly early teens. I cannot tell you how many times I have heard "Are you like the Croc Hunter?" or even worse(and most often) "Croc Hunter doesn't use anyof that stuff". I try to explain that his handling practices are dangerous and are NOT the "accepted" methods. But alot of eyes roll. Let's face facts. He is on TV. Of course it is entertainment, and he needs ratings to stay on the air. And yes he does his 2 second blurb of "I am a professional, don't do this". But another fact is that he is a HERO to many people. He is what many aspire to be. He may have been handling them his entire life, but others have not. And he is their "Video Mentor". As with anyonein the public eye, and particularly those are are considered "heros", there comes responsibility. He has got to think beyond himself. "Do as I say, not as I do" does not work. People learn by example. I have done and still do several handling techniques that I do not advertise. It is unlikely that you will ever see a pic of me pinning a hot posted on a forum. It is not because it is not done, I don't post them because it is the most dangerous part of venomous husbandry and it should be avoided if possible. So I don't want those aspiring hot keepers to think that it is commonplace or daily activity. I am very high profile, both on the internet and in real life. Because of that, I take a certain responibility to monitor what I say, what I do and what I post (once it is written, it is forever). And I am not alone. Many responsible hot keepers are very selctive of the same things. And for the same reason. I never want to hear (or read) "but, BWSmith did it".
And I also realize that adults should know the difference and parents should convey that the kids should not do that. Responsibility, blah, blah, blah. Reality check! Humans are idiots. And I know, Darwinism. But if Steve can save one idiot just by using a hook, isn't it worth it? After all, even if they are an idiot,they still deserve to live or the govt would be empty
Let me drop a few examples. Remember that these are off the top of my head from memory so some of the facts might not be 100% accurate, but the jist is the same.
In PA (I think), there was a rogue Alligator in a local pond (obviously a pet turned loose). So a local mother decided to take her two sons, I believe 10 and 14, to go try to catch it. She was quoted as saying "They watch Crocodile Hunter all the time, I am sure they can handle it".
A mountain biker (can't remember where), saw a rattler and decided to tail it. Got bit. Quaoted later as saying "Croc Hunter did it so I fugured I could too".
The list is endless. And yes, these are idiots. Luckily noone has died (to my knowledge) mimicking Steve. But it is only a matter of time. Idiots are everywhere.
I won't even go into the astronomical increase in the sale of venomoids since Steve became mainstream.
I appreciate all he has done for wildlife and conservation. He has done more than any of us could hope for in 10 lifetimes. But now that he is established, it is time to realize that he IS a hero to so many, and monkey see, monkey do. I would never ask that he give up any entheusiasm (sp) or passion. Or even not handle any type of species. But at least use a hook. Trust me, there is enough drama hooking an irate cobra. Even Boomslangs tend to "steal" hooks and we end up throwing bothe hte hook and the snake wrapped around the handle. I think that is exciting. Bottom line is that there is no need for not using a hook. Not using any handling equipment for his first run in with a LARGE adult Balck mamba ............. that was about the dumbest thing I have ever seen. It is not like any other snake he has ever dealt with. He can work with a thousand Taipans.... I tis NOT a mamba! Or holding a newborn Eastern Diamondback int he palm of his hand. And a thousand other examples. But I digress, I am getting off on a rant when I was about to close.
I know for a fact that Midwest
(the only handling equipment that I use), offered to send him a killer set of handling equipment for this very purpose. They even offered to not use it in advertising if he would just USE IT. No reply. I would bet everything that herequires his staff to use equipment when handling snakes in the zoo. How hard is it to use a freakin hook. It would not take away from the ratings. Use it once per episode and work up from there. I would actually be able to sit through an episode without yelling at the TV.
But to the original issue of staging. I have no problem with it. Just don't make it so obvious on occasion. And for the croc wrangling.......... i think he does good...... after you have worked with crocs and gators, if you have a better way, it would be welcomed by all "Big Game" Herpers. I guess I feel so strongly about his handling of venomous because it effects me directly and regularly.
Hopefully all of that made sense. My wrist hurts.