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Something Ends, and Something New Begins

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Something Ends, and Something New Begins!

Hello everyone! I have been giving much personal reflection to the future of the Creepy Crawly Zoo.  It has been a privilege and honor to have been invited to perform and share the experience of the Creepy Crawly Zoo all over the country for the last 27 years. The Creepy Crawly Zoo has been unquestionably the most successful insect program of its kind; spanning nearly 3 decades and experienced by well over a million children across the country.

It has not been an easy road for me personally. I have given everything of myself to this mission – everything.  I survived major catastrophic events. 9/11 wiped the show out and it took 2 years to start it up again. The housing bubble pop happened right at the peak of that recovery. I had just produced an award-winning DVD, the Letterman show called me, NATGEO called me, Discovery Channel called me, and then everything just stopped. I lost everything and I spent my 40th birthday living in my parents’ basement.  Another 2 years to recover and start over.

Most of you reading this have been following since that recovery. As you know I took on the ambitious goal of building a permanent location for your kids.  An insect themed science park. I had given that venture everything as well, sacrificing my every spare moment to making that happen. Things were going well. I had just reached the point of getting sponsorship and published my first book – the week of the pandemic shutdown.

COVID brought a lot of dreams to a halt and there are many that had it worse than me, so I’m not going to cry about my misfortunes there. It has been a rough 2 years and counting for all of us. But this catastrophic event comes in my 50’s. The thought of starting it all back up again, the grueling travel, making new connections at the same places I’ve been to a dozen times, rebuilding a following after 2 years of being absent is just too much.

I’m not a young man anymore and I just don’t have it in me. So, after much soul searching, I have decided not to continue the live show. I am grateful for all the memories, and I hope you are too. I hang my hat up knowing that the show inspired so many young minds and in that I feel great satisfaction.

A side note for all of you.  I kept this show going LONG after most would have given up.  What kept me going and gave me the courage and drive to keep going was you.  In my darkest moments it was always a letter or an email from a student, parent, or teacher about how the show affected them or their kids that made me get up again. So, as life goes on and others follow, do take the time to tell them how much you appreciated their efforts to share their passions.

Am I Done Yet? Nope!

During the pandemic I was frustrated.  Many other shows did some sort of virtual presentation.  I did one. It was awful in my opinion.  The Creepy Crawly Zoo has always been an “experience.” The laughing, the screaming, the terror, and the thrill of holding live invertebrates was like nothing else. Finding a way to translate that in “virtual” was impossible.

I have always had a vivid imagination when it came to nature. I have become somewhat of an expert on how to share that imagination. I can envision something that isn’t but should be real. Many years ago, I ran into an old high school friend at a school presentation.  He was doing a presentation on Virtual Reality and that was my introduction to it. It was INTENSE to say the least and my very first thought was, “someone should put a macro 360 camera in a beehive! I mean it would be the coolest anyone has ever seen!”

One problem, 360 macro cameras do not exist… until now. I spent years waiting for the technology to immerge and it never happened. During the pandemic that thought came back again and I realized that THAT was the only way to create a virtual experience, virtual reality.

I spent the last year and a half hunting and searching for some sort of technology that could make this happen. It has been the kind of frustration that made me want to jump up and down, scream and pull my hair out. Piecing this tech with that tech, spending money I didn’t have, waiting weeks for parts to arrive, etc etc etc. I became obsessed with making this work and now, here it is.

 

Later this month, it will be going in that beehive.

I have created several versions of this: a 180-degree camera, and a 360-degree camera.  This is a temporary link, but you can see a sample here and spend 17 minutes with Hugo, my Green Femur tarantula. It is REALLY COOL!

 

BUT WAIT! THERE’S MORE!

I said I was going to build a science park and I am going to build a science park!… in VIRTUAL REALITY!

As some of you know, I occasionally work with my old friend Dan Capps, owner of what was once the world’s largest private insect collection.  Dan has spent decades designing an exhibit that is strictly for public display.  As part of the science park, this display was always going to be a part of it… and now it is!

This is the first part of that project, and it is still being developed with upgrades every couple of weeks.  While it is in development, it will be free for all of you to experience. You are all welcome to use it as often as you like as we work on it.  Your feedback is also appreciated. (CLICK HERE)

Thank you all so much for the privilege it has been to keep the Creepy Crawly Zoo going all these years. It is hard to think I’ll never do it again… so I won’t say never.  This is a completely new phase in my life and I am scared and excited all a the same time.

See you all soon – in Virtual Reality.

Antonio Gustin -The Bug Whisperer™

WHIP IT! WHIP IT GOOD!

Whip it! Whip it good!

Acid spraying nightmares!  Well, no, not really. The whip scorpions and tailless whip scorpions are like something out of a sci-fi movie.  In fact, many sci-fi aliens have been modeled after them. Like most arachnids they are carnivorous.  What do they eat? Anything smaller than they are!

Whip scorpions and tailless whip scorpions are not scorpions and they have no venom.  Other common names are whip spiders and vinegaroons. They are arachnids; they have 8 legs and two main body parts. They are unusual among arachnids in that they only walk on 6 legs.  Arachnids do not have antennae. In both groups, the front pair of legs have evolved to long “whip” like appendages that they use just like antennae. Hence the name “whip.”

While whip scorpions and tailless whip scorpions look similar, they are related only by both being arachnids.  The whip scorpion (aka vinegaroon) belong to an order known as Uropygi (Greek for “tail rump”). The most common of the vinegaroons is the Thelyphonida (Greek for “murderous female” – I don’t make up the names).  Mostly a tropical arachnid, here in the United States, we have the giant vinegaroon, which is found in arid regions.

The vinegaroons get their name because of a gland on the end of their tail or Flagellum.  This gland can secrete a solution of 80% acetic acid.  Vinegar is only 3-5% acetic acid.  When disturbed they can spray it up to two feet with fairly decent accuracy, leaving the air and some unfortunate soul reeking of vinegar.

 

Tailless whip scorpions are in the order called Amblypygi, (Greek for “blunt rump”).  This refers to their lack of flagellum (tail). Amblypygids are harmless to humans.  They have no silk or venom glands. Occasionally, when annoyed they can grab a finger with their raptorial pedipalps.  Like the vinegaroons, they have extremely elongated front legs that act as sensory organs.

 

Amblypygids are an ancient order with fossilized specimens dating back to the Carboniferous period. They have a flat, crab-like, posture, and are truly alien in appearance.  Ever see the movie Lost in Space? You may recognize the metallic alien monsters, Amblypygids.

So, that’s the technical stuff.  Want to hold one?  Come to the May 11th show at Discovery World

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A CALL TO ACTION

Earlier this week we sent out an email asking for your help with our mission to build our permanent location. (SEE DETAILS HERE) If you didn’t get that email, well, you may wish to check your spam folder… or click here. 
This is a summary of what we are asking of you. Some of which take absolutely no effort on your part but truly help us.

SIGN UP TO BE A VOLUNTEER

We are in need of grant writers, graphic designers, photographers, video production assistants, bloggers, salespeople, web designers, etc etc.  Have a skill to share we haven’t mentioned? – that’s fine too.  Have spare time? We can help you with that.

DID I WIN A T-SHIRT?

Be the first to fill out and submit the form below and you win!

WEBSITE T-SHIRT STORE

This week is another chance to win a free t-shirt. It took some time and tweaking but we finally have our T-shirt shop directly on our website.  You can now view all our collections and different designs. Many new designs and products will be up as the year progresses. As a “Thank You,” for subscribing to our newsletter, you can use this code CREEPYFRIEND for %15 off your entire first order.  Share the code with friends if you like and feel free to share our products on social media.  We appreciate it.

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THANKS TO OUR WONDERFUL SPONSORS!

WELCOME TO 2019!

WELCOME TO 2019!

Creature Featured!

Darwin, the Galapagos Centipede!

As some of you may or may not know, every month this year we will be featuring a new animal in the Creepy Crawly Zoo.  Last month we had Ladybird, the Goliath Birdeater Tarantula. This month it is Darwin, the Galapagos Centipede!

In 25 years of working with invertebrates from all over the world, few things still impress me. The Galapagos Centipede (Scolopendra galapagoensis) is one of the largest centipedes in the world. I have worked with large centipedes before, but NOTHING like this! The Galapagos centipede averages 12”+ with some reports of up to 16”!

What does Darwin eat? Anything smaller than him/her (honesty it’s impossible to tell with centipedes)! Large centipedes will eat small vertebrates such as lizards, mice, and birds! All centipedes are voracious carnivores.

Darwin, unfortunately, is not an animal we will be holding during the show. While Darwin is probably more “mellow” than most scolopendra species, it is still a scolopendra. Scolopendra are venomous and can seriously wound a human.  They do not bite, centipedes pinch.  The two front legs are large and thick and have venom glands.

For more information about Darwin come to our show this Saturday, January 12th, at Discovery World.  You can meet him/her yourself and Ladybird will be there too!

THE GATEWAY SCIENCE PROJECT

2019 promises to be a year of big – BIG change. This is the year we will begin fundraising for our permanent location… somewhere in the area of Waukesha.  If you’re not familiar with our vision please click here to watch our videos.

If you want to help our vision become a reality, here is what you can do:

    • SUBSCRIBE to our YouTube channel.  In July we will release a new series of videos in the Tales from the Bug Whisperer series. Right now you can watch our award-winning pilot episode, Who Wants to be an Entomologist? For free.
    • Tell your schools about our live show.  While we don’t have our science park yet, we do have a spectacular outreach program!  For 2019 we will have new animals every month! SHARE the below promo video.

  • Volunteer: If you want to help let us know.  We can always use new talent. Bloggers, fundraisers, grant writers, photographers, videographers, graphic designers, and just enthusiastic science lovers welcome.

As a nonprofit, we depend on you.  You can donate by clicking the “DONATE” button or purchase something from our Shopify store.  We have some of the most spectacular t-shirts, hoodies and more.

Look forward to seeing you all on Saturday!

Did you win a T-shirt?  Well, if you’re the first person to respond to this newsletter (you must be subscribed) then yes, you did!  I will announce the winner on Facebook. Hurry! [email protected]

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The Creepy Crawly Zoo Today–January 2018 Newsletter

ANNOUNCEMENTS!

Hello everyone and welcome to 2018!

This newsletter has been delayed because we have some very – VERY exciting things in the works. My long-time friend, world-renowned insect collector Dan Capps, will be joining me with his insect exhibit at Discovery World on May 12th! In all my years of being involved in the world of entomology, I have never EVER seen an exhibit that even compares to it. The Capps exhibit was once the world’s largest private collection. It has even been on display at Epcot Center! Dan will be exhibiting 21 tables of displayed insects… and that is only part of his collection! I am absolutely thrilled to bring this exhibit to Discovery World.

More about the Capps collection as the day gets closer.

Next show at Discovery World is February 10th at 11:30 am.

  • · We will be giving away another wonderful Creature’s Kit from Zoo Med.
  • · Anyone wearing one of my “creepy t-shirts” will get 5 extra raffle tickets!
  • · Everyone will receive a Science Diary, printed by Wetzel Brothers.
ZOOMED CREATURES KIT
CREEPY T-SHIRT
SCIENCE DIARY

Gateway Science Center Project

As many of you know, the whole reason the Creepy Crawly Zoo is on tour again is because of the Gateway Science Center. Many of you have asked how you can help to make this place a reality. While monetary donations are always appreciated, the following is a list of things you can do. Most of these suggestions do not require much effort on your part, but they are of enormous help to me and the Gateway Science Center mission.

  • · Tell a friend, teacher or librarian about the Gateway Science Center, our live show, T-shirt store, Discovery World shows and YouTube channel! If you tell two friends and they tell two friends and so on and so on – well, you get the idea. You can tell someone in conversation or spread the word on social media. When posting about it please include a few words of endorsement. That makes a big difference.

Over the last two decades with the live show, 95% of my business has always been word of mouth. You, the people, have always been the reason this show endured.

 Our goal is to reach 1000 subscribers.

  • · Like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter
  • · Write a blog. If you or anyone you know has some creative writing skills, a blog about the Gateway Science Center project would be of enormous value. So valuable that we have offered our customers a $75 discount off a live show for this.
  • · Become a sponsor. If you have a business and would like to become a sponsor, please message me and I will send you information about what I can do for you. While the Creepy Crawly Zoo is currently not a non-profit organization most of our clients are. You can make a donation to a school or schools for our visit. This helps out schools and you or your donation is tax-deductible.

If you have any other suggestions I am always willing to listen.

BIRTH AND DEATH NOTICES

Charlotte, one of my black widows, had one of her egg cases hatch recently. (see photo)

Sadly, Clyde, the Desert Hairy Scorpion, passed away last week. In 2009, Clyde volunteered for the Creepy Crawly Zoo, when crawled under my door. I was living in Tucson at the time. He will be missed. R.I.P. Clyde.

This month’s Creepy T-shirt winner is: Vanessa Kim!

Thank you very much for subscribing to this newsletter.  This is our first and we would love to hear suggestions from you on what you want to hear from us.

Antonio Gustin

AKA – The Bug Whisperer

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Dynamic Partnership Inspires Scientific Literacy for Kids

Dynamic Partnership Inspires Scientific Literacy for Kids

Discovery World & Milwaukee Area Science Advocates (MASA)

Present

TONY’S CREEPY CRAWLY ZOO & THE GATEWAY SCIENCE TOUR!

Discovery World, MASA and the Bug Whisperer have joined forces to promote their mutual missions of advancing science literacy to the community with the Gateway Science Tour! Tony’s Creepy Crawly Zoo, the world’s greatest traveling live insect exhibit, will be back on tour, performing monthly at Milwaukee’s premier science center for kids, Discovery World.

“Discovery World is thrilled to partner with The Bug Whisperer and MASA in hopes of encouraging a lifelong love of science and STEM education in our community’s youth,” said Paul Fladten, Discovery World’s Senior Public Relations Manager. “We’ve been lucky to have Tony perform his hilarious and educational shows at Discovery World as part of Summer Camp and Members Events, but we’re ecstatic to now offer monthly shows for the general public. This is truly a show for all ages and one that kids will never forget!”

Tony (aka The Bug Whisperer) is taking his show out of retirement and back on the road to promote his groundbreaking new venture, The Gateway Science Center, which introduces children to the wonders of natural sciences through an entertaining and interactive experience with insects and reptiles. (see details: http://axy.c76.myftpupload.com/creepy-activism/)

“Insects are everywhere and affect everything in the natural world. At my shows, I help children become fascinated with insects. They leave feeling empowered because they can find these inspiring creatures in their own backyard. Their resulting curiosity and questions lead them to every science you can think of! Entomology is a gateway science!”  Antonio Gustin

The Gateway Science Tour is out to raise awareness for the Science Park’s crowd funding page on Gofundme.  Every child will receive a “Science Diary,” designed by Antonio Gustin, Discovery World, and MASA. (Printed by Wetzel Brothers) The science diary is a tool to set kids on scientific adventures with their normal playtime. The Gateway Science Tour hopes to reach 100 schools this coming year and give away 25,000 science diaries!

The Gateway Science Tour will kick-off its first show at Discovery World, on October 7th, 11:30am.

Contact: Antonio Gustin

Tony’s Creepy Crawly Zoo

[email protected]

Contact: Paul Fladten

Discovery World

[email protected]

Contact: Jason Kern

MASA

[email protected]

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Meet the Bug Whisperer

 

You’ve heard of the Dog Whisperer, the Cat Whisperer, and the Horse Whisperer. Well, now meet the Bug Whisperer. Antonio (“Tony”) Gustin, an entomologist, is an award-winning film producer, educator, and performer. He also started Tony’s Creepy Crawly Zoo, a fun and educational series of programs that teaches kids (and adults) about the world of bugs. My […]

Source: Meet the Bug Whisperer