Ean Schmidt, 3, meets Razor the royal python during Brent “Zoo Man” Mielke’s visit to Albert Lea Public Library Thursday. – Colleen Harrison/Albert Lea Tribune
Ean Schmidt, 3, meets Razor the royal python during Brent “Zoo Man” Mielke’s visit to Albert Lea Public Library Thursday. – Colleen Harrison/Albert Lea Tribune

Animal antics: Zoo Man delights children with reptiles

Published 10:08am Friday, July 25, 2014

For 26 years, the Zoo Man has been bringing animals to the library.

Brent Mielke, more commonly known as the Zoo Man, closed out the Summer Reading Program at the Albert Lea Public Library with his animal show. Mielke has done animal shows in 47 states since 1988.

Animal shows have been common this summer in the children’s library section. The animals Mielke brought with him  this time were all reptiles and lizards. Earlier this summer the Reptile and Amphibian Discovery Zoo from Owatonna visited, but Mielke brought some different reptiles for the children to see.

Besides entertaining the children and parents with his banter, Mielke brought four animals with him to show.

The first animal Mielke brought out was a bearded dragon. The creature was appearing in its second show.

He also brought out a small snapping turtle, which he had to hold by the tail so he wouldn’t get scratched or bitten, and a giant blue-tongued skink, which really did have a blue tongue.

The children enthusiastically asked questions about the animals and were happy to come up as volunteers, especially when the giant blue-tongued skink gave nose “kisses.”

Mielke brought a royal python named Razor with him, as well, and many of the children got to interact with the snake. Razor has been in the Zoo Man show since he was born 26 years ago.

Mielke explained there was a fire at his zoo, the Prairie Winds Zoo in Adrian, that wiped out all of his reptiles— all of them except for Razor, who hid in a pool of water in his exhibit.

Now Mielke has a private zoo in Sleepy Eye where he keeps all of his animals. He’s also interested in fitness, as he runs some health clubs and is a professional bodybuilder and powerlifter.

Many of the children at the show got a chance to pet or interact with the animals Mielke brought with him, and all children who wanted a photo with Razor were able to get one.

Tying in to the library’s emphasis on reading during the summer, Mielke repeatedly urged the children to check out books from the library and read about the animals he brought with him.