Urban Tarzan

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  • PHOTOS BY CHRIS WYMAN Urban Tarzan is shown with an alligator snapping turtle he has named "Jaws." These turtles live in the southeastern states and are the heaviest freshwater turtles in the world, growing to weigh hundreds of pounds.




  • Urban Tarzan is shown with a crocodile monitor, which is native to New Guinea. These lizards grow to be the world's longest and can measure up to about eight feet.




  • While attempting to pick up and carry this African rock python, the snake repeated tried to bite Urban Tarzan.




  • Urban Tarzan is shown during his demonstration with a very large reticulated python, one of the worldís largest snakes. This one, named Princess, is 21 feet long and weighs 245 pounds.




  • Ellen Kalish provided informative lessons about birds of prey including this barn owl.




  • Urban Tarzan plays with this 7-month-old New Jersey black bear he named "Rasper."



There is no doubt that thousands of people each day head off to get cool at Action Park. But up and to the left of the Hightide Wavepool is a cool and well-shaded amphitheater that will, at least through Labor Day, give park visitors a chance to enjoy the trills of watching Urban Tarzan’s Wildlife Patrol in action.

Including both native and exotic reptiles, birds of prey and a young New Jersey black bear, the 1 and 3 p.m. shows easily drew visitors away from the pools and rides for a chance to see animal handlers brave some rather large, and occasionally aggressive critters.

As Tarzan first stepped out onto the stage he held a small, and what might even be called cute, baby alligator snapping turtle named “Baby Jaws.” Following a rather innocuous introduction, he next brought out a 40-year-old version of the same animal and proceeded to explain how the massive turtle waits with its jaws open for whatever prey passes its way. Using a bright green zucchini for the show of force, the animal easily snapped through the vegetable as if it were made of butter.

The giant turtle is native to the southeastern states and is known to be the heaviest freshwater turtle in the world, growing to weigh hundreds of pounds. Apparently the biggest is the best and the next animal was a crocodile monitor, which is native to New Guinea. These lizards grow to be the world’s longest and can measure up to about eight feet.

Originally from The Bronx in New York City, professional exotic animal wrangler Urban Tarzan has turned a hobby and childhood interest into a show. As a youngster, he was inspired by a variety of animal television shows and was a frequent visitor to the nearby Bronx Zoo. Since then, he has himself been featured on numerous television programs.

Following the large reptiles was another variety of the genre in the form of large constrictor-type snakes. He began this segment with an aggressive African rock python, which repeatedly tried to bite Urban Tarzan as he attempted to remove it from its container and then picked it up for the crowd. However, the real shocker came in the form of a very large reticulated python, one of the world’s largest snakes. This one, named Princess, was 21 feet long and weighed 245 pounds. Not an animal to be taken lightly, although it was clearly better natured than the first smaller snake.

Presented near the end of the show was what appeared to be everyone’s favorite when Tarzan entered a large caged enclosure with “Rasper,” a seven-month-old New Jersey black bear cub that Tarzan has temporarily adopted for the show. He tussled with the young bruin and then enticed him to climb the walls of the cage. Even after the show had ended, visitors stayed and watched as Rasper played with a variety of toys and other distractions in the cage.

These special shows will continue throughout the month every Saturday and Sunday and on Labor Day Monday. Additional photos and more information about Urban Tarzan can be found on his Facebook page.

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