Kathy Hester Works her Magic with Animals & Children

San Diego Lizard Wizard, North County, Carlsbad, Encinitas, Education, Science

By Mandy S. Chuey August 13, 2018

Macaroni Kid was fortunate enough to get to know, local favorite, Lizard Wizard of San Diego aka Kathy Hester. You may have met her and her incredibly awe inspiring animals at your child's preschool, special school event or at the most interesting kid's Birthday Party you've ever been to! Do Madagascar Hissing Cockroaches ring a bell? If not, don't worry there is plenty of time for her stunning yellow python to squeeze into your life. Macaroni Kid Carlsbad is happy to share a little about the woman behind the ....turtles, frogs, snakes, lizards and BUGS!

When did your love of animals begin and specifically with reptiles and amphibians? 

As a child growing up on a lake in NJ surrounded by woods, I learned an early appreciation and fascination for all life forms. I spent my days outside. My brothers and I swam in the slimy water with the snapping turtles, bullfrogs, and red-eared sliders. Afterwards, we would use a stick to scrape off the slimier and clingy leeches. More important than the love for animals is a sincere concern of a pet's well being obtained by a thorough research of  the information needed to maintain that specific species. There is no such species as a green turtle, a garden snake, or a common dog. To love a wild animal, is to leave it be and give it space. 

Tell us about how long you've been the Lizard Wizard and more about your business? 

I am not thee Lizard Wizard. The former graced me with the opportunity to become the Lizard Wizard of SD. For 25 years I have been sharing my docile pets with kids of all ages, literally from age 1 to 83!  An animal encounter can tie into so many different themes at most occasions without loud sound systems. People are either excited to interact or in awe at those doing so. The presentation is designed to last an hour with willing calm volunteers. 

What is your favorite part about being so involved in our community? 

Tending animals is a huge time consuming lifestyle. Sharing with schools, camps, churches, and all events is my time to socialize. Many of these locations invite us back annually. I am glad that education still includes a hands-on approach, especially with nature since the connection is so important to our own health. My ideal set up location is under a big shady tree where we can all breathe deeply and calmly. 

What do you hope children most take away from your presentations? 

Respect!  I emphasize the proper approach, touch, and handling from the eye's of the animal. Respect for everything and everyone is not through our own eyes, but theirs. Most people want to pet the head of an animal. I would never walk up to a stranger and touch their head, legs, or tail. Nor do I pet my reptiles at home. I do allow a gentle stroke on some of their backs so children experience the difference between scales and skin. Often I try to reteach a gentle petting method instead of the one or two finger "stab" as I call it

The goal is to share, make others aware, so they end up caring. I hope adults learn too that the solution is not as easy as releasing animals out into the wild. The wild no longer exists. Yes, I have been to Africa where much of the land is the same as it was 50 million years ago. Yet even this protected land is not safe from poachers. 

Animals and nature bring me joy.  I love sharing my pets and seeing children smile and laugh. Adults too. A great recipe for special moments.

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