Nature Center to host presentation, “Growing up in a Zoo”

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Photo courtesy Larry Flinchpaugh.

Years ago in St. Joseph, there was a privately-owned zoo on Frederick Avenue filled with hundreds of reptiles.

This week, Larry Flinchpaugh will share about his life and experiences through the presentation “Growing up in a Zoo.”

Shelly Cox with the Remington Nature Center said they decided to put on the presentation and put up a display up at the Nature Center after someone contacted them about a piece of St. Joseph memorabilia.

“I went to their house, they were getting ready to move to Texas and they presented me with a box that contained a vial of antivenin,” Cox said. “Then they explained that the Flinchpaugh’s had a zoo in St. Joseph and one of their employees had been bitten and that was one of the vials of antivenin from that circumstance. Then they handed me an 18-and-a-half-foot anaconda skin, a 13-foot cobra skin… and just all sorts of things. They had come into possession of these things years ago and they had originally belonged at the Reptile Gardens which was the local zoo that Larry Flinchpaugh and his family owned.”

Flinchpaugh said he has a lot of stories to tell about alligators, snakes and their chimpanzee, Vicky Lynn.

Cox said all ages are welcome to attend the presentation.

“I know many of the older people in town are going to remember visiting the zoo and it being a big part of their childhood like my mother fondly remembers it,” Cox said. “But we want people to show up and learn about St. Joseph history and learn about the things that were here, the entertainment that was available in the area back in the 1950s, 1960s and maybe their grandparents told them stories, now they can come and learn more about it.”

The presentation begins at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday at the Remington Nature Center at 1502 MacArthur Drive in St. Joseph.  The presentation is included with the standard admission fees. For more information and photos of the Reptile Gardens, go to larryflinchpaugh.com. For more about the presentation, click here.