MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – After a brief hiatus, which was caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Exotic Animal and Reptile Expo was back in full effect on Saturday, May 1, at the Holiday Inn.
Vendors from West Virginia and other states proudly displayed their snakes, lizards, turtles, rodents and lots more to curious expo-goers, some of whom were looking for a new friend to take home. George Diaz, owner of Off The Hook Exotic Pets in Pittsburgh, was one of those vendors happy to answer questions and show off his collection. He said he was happy to see so many people in attendance.
“They’re enjoying getting out in the open again, they’re enjoying coming out and seeing all of us,” Diaz said. “People get bored at home. They want to start a fish tank, maybe get a new pet. It’s a great way to do that, and you get to meet a lot of people in the industry that are breeders, people that work with these animals every day.”
Reptiles and exotic pets, clearly, have Diaz’s heart and the hearts of most expo attendees. However, Diaz and other vendors understand that many are hesitant about purchasing such an animal.
To those people, who are maybe on the fence about making a purchase, or who may have never considered it, Diaz said never say never.
“It’s a curiosity,” he said. “I mean, reptiles are a really cool kind of pet. Years ago, we didn’t have the technology for them. But now, they’re getting a little bit more mainstream, so a lot of people have a neighbor that has a reptile as a pet. Or, they’ll go to a school function and they’ll have like an educational program, which are getting more popular. And they think, ‘well, wow I could have that in my home’.”
At the end of the day, Diaz said he would love for someone to buy his animals and provide them with loving new homes. But, at the same time, if people don’t buy anything, he can still be happy.
That’s because for Diaz and many other vendors, just being able to hit the road to display and talk about the animals they love, is, often, plenty.
“Oh, it’s it’s a lot of fun,” Diaz said. “We have a pet store up in Pittsburgh and we’ve kind of weathered through this up there, but to get the shows up and running again, it’s really great. We see a lot of people here that we only see down here in West Virginia, that don’t make it up to Pittsburgh, so it’s nice to reconnect with customers that we’ve had from the past.”
The Exotic Animal and Pet Expo will be back in Morgantown in June. You can keep up with its Facebook page for the latest information and details.