Up close and personal with the SEWE Wildlife


CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – The Southeastern Wildlife Exposition brings a buzz to the Lowcountry and if you’re planning to take advantage of the events being offered around downtown Charleston, you still have a few days.

If you’re looking to make a new friend or two this Valentine’s Day weekend, there are a few strangers in town who might fit the bill.

“Alligators, cranes, pelicans, possums, and all kinds of birds of prey,” are just some of the animals in town for the events, says Amy Knight the Executive Director of Busch Wildlife Sanctuary.

While most people visit Charleston for play, these critters are here to educate.

“We not only have our own shows at the Gaillard, but we also assist with Jack Hanna’s shows, supplying animals and handlers for him,” says Kight.

Among the animals visiting for SEWE includes Chomper the 3-year-old American Alligator.

“Someone had him illegally as a pet and they were posting it on social media and the authorities caught wind of it and they went and confiscated him and brought him to the sanctuary,” says Kight.

Like Chomper, 6-year-old Gracin joined the sanctuary team to educate others as an ambassador animal after being kept as a pet.

“Most of them are not this docile, and even she has her moments,” says Christen Mason, a volunteer with the sanctuary. “Nobody should let this moment fool them.”

The animals travel around to teach others about their lifestyle and habits for those who just might not know about them.

If you happen to bump into Frasier the crane riding in the elevator at your hotel, don’t be confused.

“We also have great partnerships with the hotels, so we can bring the animals inside, get them exercise, get the gator in the tub if we need to,” says Mason. “The Sandhill Crane rides the elevator, it works out really well for us.”

With roughly 40,000 people expected to be on hand for the exposition through the weekend, organizers continue to urge people to use the SEWE shuttle or a ride sharing service.

The animals from Busch Wildlife Sanctuary can be seen at several shows on Saturday and Sunday at the Gaillard center as a part of SEWE.

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