Jake holds his hands up and lets a baby corn snake glide against his skin. Cockroaches hiss nearby. Snapping turtles wait to be fed. Jake smiles, he’s been wanting to do this for a very long time.
This is the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium in Ohio, and the closest Jake has ever been to his lifelong dream to be a reptile handler. He knows he’s going to receive a Ph.D. in reptile studies one day. His condition won’t stop him.
Jake has always loved animals. Every day he studies about them to learn a little bit more. He hopes his knowledge will push him closer to his goal. When the Make-A-Wish team asked Jake what he would want if he could have anything in the world, it came as no surprise that his wish revolved around being with animals.
On the day of his wish, Jake traveled alongside his family to Columbus, Ohio, where he found a limo waiting outside of their hotel.
Jake arrived at the Columbus Zoo where he did everything – from learning how to care and feed the different creatures to creating an enrichment piece for the pythons living area.
His family excitedly watched while Jake learned the ins and outs of the zoo.
Though Jake handled many different animals that day from geckos, to cockroaches, and even a penguin that was the inspiration for the movie “Happy Feet,” his favorite reptile was Dude, the Grand Cayman iguana. Since Dude was his favorite, Jake received a one-of-a-kind art piece that Dude painted himself!
After an entire day as a reptile handler, Jake was certain more than ever about what he envisions for his future.
Special thanks to the Ohio, Kentucky & Indiana chapter for assisting with Jake’s wish.