Ken Panse, also known as the Reptile Wrangler, is a familiar face in Douglasville and metro Atlanta. Now, his son Zack is becoming a more familiar face at the shows.
Zack, who has helped his father with his shows since he was in eighth grade, said he has taken an increased interest in educating the public on the tandem’s 40 animals.
A part time job and volunteer opportunity, Zack said, ignited his desire to follow in his father’s footsteps.
“I started out with the pet store helping people out with their pet supplies and after the pet store I went to Zoo Atlanta and volunteered. I did that for two and a half years and got over 200 volunteer hours,” he said. “It helped me out a lot with my training, because we used to talk about the different animals and through Zoo Atlanta it gave me a lot of experience on how to talk to people and how to handle a crowd.”
Ken said he did not push his son toward the career, but he is overjoyed to have him on board. Aside from the pleasures of working with his son, Ken said there is also an obvious benefit of increased capabilities.
“Now we have the ability to double book. We can go in separate directions,” he said.
As the end of the school year ends, Ken said they will need those capabilities. From the end of May until August the pair will work seven days a week and have performed as many as seven shows a day. They already have a display for Congressman Roger Bruce’s Family Day Saturday at Sweetwater Creek State Park at 11 a.m. and appearances at the Taste of Douglasville and Taste of Alpharetta on tap.
Zack said he does not mind the hectic schedule because it is a labor of love.
“I just really enjoy teaching people about the different kinds of snakes in Georgia and how important they are,” he said. “It’s fun to teach them the different markings so they can know what is dangerous and what is not and the benefits they offer. I really just enjoy talking to people and teaching them about the things that I love.”
In the future, Zack said he would like to take the show to another city and expand. Ken said the pair is already working to establish a theme park in Myrtle Beach as part of a five-year plan.
For now, Ken said he is just enjoying watching his son in action.
“It’s incredible to be able to look over there and see your son teach the crowd and have their eyes fixated on him. I get to see that over and over again,” he said.