I have known George Van Horn for more than fifty years. We grew up in the same community in South Florida, and we became friends because we each had a pet snake. When we were in Jr. High school, we had to travel to the Everglades to search for new pets to add to our snake collection. Today, exotic reptiles, are the third most common pets in the U.S. and most large cities in the U.S. have at least one reptile show yearly. It is no longer necessary to hunt for a pet snake in the Everglades or elsewhere; you can purchase your pet snake at the local reptile show.
After high school graduation, I started college and George joined the Army and served the U.S. in Vietnam. George finally decided to attend college and earned a B.S. Degree in Biology from Florida Atlantic University in 1972. George’s grandmother helped George purchase land in St. Cloud, Florida, as his college graduation gift. Today George owns and operates Reptile World Serpentarium on that land in St. Cloud, Florida. Reptile World has been in operation for more than 35 years, and George is one of the world’s most famous and respected herpetologists. People come from all over the world to visit Reptile World which is just South of the Orlando area in St. Cloud.
Reptile World is open daily except for Monday. It is open from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. If you visit, be sure to see the Venom show that starts at noon and is repeated at 3 p.m. The venom show allows visitors to view the extraction of venom from different species of venomous snakes. There is some risk whenever a venomous snake is handled. George was bitten by a King Cobra in 1995, and had to remain in the hospital for sometime from that bite. George handles the venomous snakes in an enclosed room that has thick glass in the front for audience viewing. There is no danger to the audience. If you are interested in additional information, the phone number is: 407-892-6905.
As an amateur herpetologist, I had a venomous reptile certificate in years past. Also, I have handled venomous snakes like George does. I thought about becoming a professional herpetologist like George many years ago. Yet today, as I watch George handle King Cobras, rattlesnakes, copperheads, and other venomous snakes, I am absolutely satisfied to be on the outside with the audience watching the show!
R. Van Conoley