Snakes alive! The Zoo Man wows the crowds
The crowd pleasing showman Brent Mielke had children giggling with laughter and excitement this past week in several Faribault County cities.
Also known as “Zoo Man,” Brent Mielke made an appearance at the Muir Library in Winnebago, the Blue Earth Community Library, and the Wells Public Library on Tuesday, July 25. For almost 30 years, Mielke has dazzled audience members both young and old with his incredible passion and knowledge of animals and comic books.
Mielke, who owns a private zoo in Sleepy Eye, kicked off the 30-minute program by showing off his vast collection of comic book figurines. From Batman, to Spiderman, to Superman, and the Joker, Mielke had several different types of figurines for each comic book icon.
The energetic performance also included a personal account of what made Mielke so passionate about comic books action heros in the first place. As Mielke explained, he identified with the back story of both Batman and Superman as a youngster.
“My dad suffered with a serious case of Parkinson’s Disease, so I did a lot of things without him,” Mielke said. “When I immersed myself in the world of comic books, I discovered that we all have our own unique super powers.”
During the second portion of the show, Mielke allowed some brave young audience members to get up close and personal with some of his reptilious friends.
The first animal Mielke introduced to the children was a small corn snake. A non-venomous creature, Mielke helped to debunk common myths associated with the often misunderstood animal. Mielke even demonstrated the snake’s own superpowers by tying the animal into a knot without harming it.
“Snakes like this feed on rats and mice which carry disease to humans. Keeping the pest population down means they are a benefit to people,” Mielke said.
A royal python named “Razor” was also introduced to the inquisitive youngsters. Some boys and girls even mustered up enough courage to wear Razor as a necklace.
A slow plodding blue-tongued skink was also a part of the show. Mielke revealed that these animals are one of the slowest moving lizards due to their short legs. These timid but remarkable creatures are also known to regenerate limbs.
“If it loses its toes, they grow back. If it loses its legs, they grow back. If they lose their tail, it grows back,” Mielke said. “If it loses its head, well then it’s dead. There’s no coming back from that,” Mielke chuckled.
The largest animal in Mielke’s animal showcase happened to be a 13-foot yellow burmese python. Amazingly, this snake was not yet fully grown according to Mielke. An adult burmese python can grow in excess of 20 feet long.
Several youngster took turns forming straight lines and posing for pictures with the colorful serpent.