Zan Crocket of Atlanta said he attended Repticon, an expo of reptiles and exotic animals, in Lawrenceville on Saturday to help others face their fears of them … as he held a huge lizard named Monster.

“I enjoy when they pet him and aren’t afraid anymore,” Crocket said while standing near the entrance. “If you like reptiles, respect them; if you’re afraid of reptiles, learn about them.”

A large crowd of reptile enthusiasts attended Repticon at the Gwinnett County Fairgrounds. The two-day expo featured hundreds of different reptiles such as snakes, geckos and lizards; seminars; vendors and more.

The show takes place across the country but is held quarterly in Georgia.

Tina Russell, who manages the event, said it started almost a decade ago but is still popular.

“We hold the seminars to show how helpful reptiles can be to the environment and help everyone understand some are really gentle,” Russell said.

Emily Ozmar of Cumming said she tries to stop by the expo every time it is in town because she hopes to work with reptiles one day. Ozmar wants to handle — not harm — snakes on the loose and extract their venom for research.

“It’s something not many people want to do, but somebody has to do it,” Ozmar said.

Ozmar and her sister, Jessie, had nine reptiles in their home but left the event with two more.

“A reptile isn’t something you should be afraid of,” Jessie Ozmar said. “You can’t listen to that tiny voice in your head saying these small animals will (harm) you. They actually are good pets.”

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