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Q: What is the Creepy Crawly Zoo and what does it do exactly?

Tony’s Creepy Crawly Zoo is an exciting, dynamic, and theatrical hands-on live insect show that inspires a lifelong love of science and STEAM education in our community’s youth. It empowers students with critical thinking skills and introduces them to an enthralling gateway science that is as accessible as their own backyards. 

The cure for boredom is curiosity, there is no cure for curiosity” – Dorthy Parker.

All children are natural scientists. They are naturally insanely curious about their world. Over the last 25 years, I’ve learned how perfect insects are to reach them and spark that curiosity to foster a lifelong fascination with learning. Insects are everywhere and affect everything.  They are the most dominant life form on the planet. They are exciting, mysterious, alien, and abundantly available to kids. Insects are almost every child’s first fascination with the natural world. No child has to do anything more than step outside to find them. Once they are introduced to them, curiosity and questions follow effortlessly. That is the very foundation of what science is – curiosity. Insects are so diverse in their form and functions that the questions kids ask about insects can lead to every scientific discipline known.” – Antonio Gustin  

To reinforce this experience, we have designed a Science Diary for students.  The booklet is free and everyone receives one. The Science Diary introduces students to the tenets of science and provides pages for students to record observations like real scientists. The tenets of science are very simple yet crucial to developing critical thinking skills that any student can master at any age.



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Q: What will the Creepy Crawly Zoo do to benefit my students?


  • Light fires of scientific curiosity and wonder in all the students we reach. 

  • Provide a channel for students to pursue this curiosity on their own. 

  • Introduce students to the basic elements of practicing scientific observation skills.

  • Spread awareness that science is a way of thinking that is accessible to all at any age.

Antonio does not just believe that learning is supposed to be fun in theory – it is fun! The Creepy Crawly Zoo is a progressive program that introduces students to Entomology by letting them be entomologists for a time. It’s fun, it’s exciting, and even a little scary. It’s an opportunity to face fear with understanding and conquer it. By creating a positive experience around the subject matter students gain an appreciation for not just entomology but learning. It is not the goal of the Creepy Crawly Zoo to turn everyone into entomologists but to simply open a door of opportunity to a very accessible science that students may not have realized was available to them.

Insects and other invertebrates are the perfect tools for this. Why? Because no student has to go far to find insects on their own. This life form is everywhere and they affect everything. The food we eat, the clothes we wear, the gardens we grow, the houses we live in, the fish we catch, the medicines we discover, the birds we watch, and even our other pets like dogs and cats are all affected by insects. Even we are affected by insects. This is not to imply that all these effects are negative either. We would not be alive today if it was not for insects. To be introduced to insects is to get a glimpse of the great biodiversity this planet really holds and how all living things affect other living things. This doesn’t start in the rainforest it starts right where we are where ever that may be. Some insect is doing something to affect that space close by. It is awesome to understand how something so small can do so much on a global scale!

The point is it is an inspirational program. A famous musician was quoted as saying that the kind of music he liked was the kind that made you want to pick up a guitar yourself. This is the kind of education program the Creepy Crawly Zoo is. It inspires you to want to know more, to do it yourself. In wanting to know more about insects and understanding the complexity they hold in our daily lives students may discover other interests that will stem from that one pursuit.

“While insects are my tool of choice to connect with kids, my true love is science more broadly! There is a recurring theme from COSMOS that has always inspired me. When you look at the scientists who made the influential discoveries shaping our understanding of the universe and ourselves, most of them got their start when a single stranger inspired them to better themselves with science. While we are fortunate to now stand on the shoulders of their discoveries, these children could have easily missed this opportunity if it had not been for that nudge.”

“Whenever I do my show, I look at the excited faces before me. I often wonder to myself, which one of these little nosepickers is going to change the world because of what I do here today? Which one is the next Newton, Faraday, Einstein, Lamarr, Leavitt, Curie… Sagan?”

Antonio Gustin

Q How the Creepy Crawly Zoo benefits teachers and parents?

In promoting the excitement that the Creepy Crawly Zoo creates it is not to diminish its practical side. The Creepy Crawly Zoo is an education program. Some of its lessons are hidden in the vignette of a good time the rest is straightforward science – a science that is part of every school curriculum. Teachers are quoted again and again saying that their students were either extremely excited to learn about insects afterward or that it bought the lessons they had already gone through to life. Let’s face it, teachers are overworked and underpaid and a program that can make the job of educating the future easier and appreciated is a good thing.

“The Creepy Crawly Zoo is only the beginning and leaves students always wanting more. This is not a shortcoming or an accident. This is what the program is designed to do. I learned early on through painful experiences that I would never be able to say all the things I wanted to in the 45-50 minutes I have during the program. To even try defeats the purpose of the program. I realized that it is simply my job to inspire, to create an appreciation. In school, they will either take a greater interest when the subject is taught or check out books from the library.

Outside of school they will go home and talk to their parents about it. In fact most of the parents I talk to say they won’t shut up about it! I love that. I had one parent scold me when she found out who I was. We had known each other from mutual acquaintances but she never knew I was the infamous “Bug Whisperer”. Apparently, I had visited her son’s school a few years earlier. She said from that day on she has not been able to take a trip anywhere without making sure the nets and jars were packed for the trip. It had been her son’s obsession since the day I came to his school 2 years ago. That made my day.”

So, parents, that’s what you have to look forward to. Hope you’re not squeamish. Entomology is as accessible as the backyard. Insects make great low-maintenance pets. We learn from pets. They do things we don’t understand and we ask why? In life, we are only as great as the questions we ask. Insects are so varied in habits and just utterly alien that we are always asking “why?” and “how?” You never know when the answer to a question will change the course of humanity. You never know if your child’s curiosity will lead them to be the next Alexander Flemming. (You may want to start with (WHO WANTS TO BE AN ENTOMOLOGIST?)

Entomology is relatively new as a scientific discipline and humans have identified over a million different species with many many more to go. Of those million species, we know very little about most of them. In entomology, there are more than a million questions that have not been asked or answered. For those of you who are not seeing the big picture that equals job security.

Q: Why should you choose the CCZ?

Nowadays no one has money to waste and time is also valuable. Have you ever hired an assembly program that disappointed your students or parents or patrons? If you are like most event coordinators you most certainly have. You may be reluctant to try another program without recommendations.

Tony’s Creepy Crawly Zoo is an already established live show that has been working with schools for over 25 years.  It has been seen by over a million students across the country. The program and zoo are already created, already tested, and already in high demand.  It has a proven track record of being very effective. It is insured, and USDA approved. It is adaptable to just about any situation and can host up to 250+ students in a single show.

It makes an impression for its entertainment value as well as its educational value. The Creepy Crawly Zoo not only does large school assemblies but can be tailored for small shows also. The type of venue the Creepy Crawly Zoo is good for is anywhere there are families: Children’s theatres, museums, corporate parties, conventions, resorts, fairs, discovery centers, schools, fundraisers, libraries, daycares, etc. The Creepy Crawly Zoo has done it all with spectacular results.



Some of our previous venues include Discovery World, Purdue’s Bug Bowl, Virginia Tech’s Bug Fest, Wehr Nature Center’s Bug Day, Raleigh, NC Bug Fest, Museum of Gastonia’s Bug Day, the Milwaukee Zoo, The Columbus Zoo, and many many more!