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Erik the Reptile Guy live streams from rain forests to Long Island schools

For Erik Callender, of Hauppauge, following his dream means teaching about dozens of reptiles, some rescued, to audiences at parties, schools and events. Along the way he hopes to inspire others to live their dreams. Videojournalist: Chris Ware (Dec. 10, 2013)

Erik the Reptile Guy — who has brought his alligator, python, frogs and other animals into Long Island schools for years — is the subject of a TV show airing at 2 p.m. on Wednesday, April 19, on WLIW / 21 detailing his quest to travel overseas and beam back live shows to Long Island classrooms.

“Doing the Reptile Rumba From the Rainforest of Ranomafana” is a documentary aimed at entertaining and educating kids as well as adults, and it follows herpetologist Erik Callender, 40, as he launches his newest venture. The hourlong show focuses on Callender’s jungle-to-school sessions “live from the rain forest” on the tropical island of Madagascar off the coast of Africa.

During filming in 2012, Callender initially Skyped with children at the Lawrence Road Middle School in Hempstead and Cold Spring Harbor Elementary School, equipped just with a laptop computer and “old-fashioned showmanship,” according to the documentary. Some of those kids and their teachers are featured as Callender introduces their classes to creatures native to Madagascar. Callender currently is in Borneo, where he will be Skyping this week with classes in Medford and Albertson.

In addition, Callender is publishing a series of books to accompany his sessions, and he is opening an environmental center for kids from Madagascar in their country.

“Our environment is changing a great deal, and it feels urgent, now more than ever, to connect our children and families directly to the planet so they will be able to make informed decisions that will be beneficial to all of the life on planet Earth,” Callender says.

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