Bivalve Benefit for Wetlands Conservation

Ducks Unlimited Oyster Roast

When the sun begins to set on the galleries and parks of the Holy City, famished wildlife fanatics should consider moseying over to the Charleston Visitors Center Bus Shed to refuel and relax at the Ducks Unlimited Oyster Roast, beginning at 6 p.m. on Fri., Feb. 16.

“We’re celebrating our 10th year at the Southeastern Wildlife Expostion,” says spokesman Mark Hartley. Ducks Unlimited is a member-driven organization that focuses on the conservation, restoration, and management of the wetlands and associated habitats for North America’s waterfowl by treating wildlife with respect through teamwork, collaboration, and science-based decisions.

Tickets for the oyster roast are $50 and include a Ducks Unlimited membership in addition to an all-you-can-eat buffet of oysters supplied by Mt. Pleasant Seafood and accompanied by an assortment of Lowcountry cuisine such as shrimp and grits and down-home barbecue by Jim Fitts Catering out of Yemassee, whom Hartley affectionately calls “a good ol’ boy.” The fun doesn’t stop at the end of the table — an open bar and live music by former members of the bluegrass band Homeboy Discount Band await the evening’s revelers.

While sipping and slurping, guests can participate in live and silent auctions with chances to walk away with original artwork, carvings, trips, and Ducks Unlimited merchandise. “We’ve got some amazing trips up for grabs this year, 16 on the live auction, such as a 10-day safari in Africa, bird hunts in Argentina and Uruguay, as well a ladies-only deer hunt and a golf package to Sea Pines in Hilton Head Island.” Hartley expects to have their biggest turnout yet. Call (843) 224-5142 for tickets.Laura Zapp FRIDAY @ 6 p.m. (Bus Shed)


Animal Man

Jack Hanna

Jack Hanna has became an icon over the years, appearing on Letterman and Leno, feeding infant anteaters, clad in khaki, and telling corny jokes. His passion for animals, his immense knowledge, and his easy-going personality has made him a bonafide celebrity. Hanna will be arriving in the Lowcountry after a spot on Good Morning America and a tour of the Northeast, ready to introduce throngs of fans to animals from near and far. Hanna served as executive director of the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium for 14 years and is now the director emeritus, a position that remains dear to his heart.

Hanna started his career as a pet store owner in Knoxville, Tenn., where he honed his ability to entertain and educate. His first zoo job was in Sanford, Fla. It wasn’t until that an appearance on Good Morning America in 1983 that the media became intrigued with Hanna’s hard work at the Columbus Zoo. Today, Hanna hosts the popular television series Jack Hanna’s Animal Adventures and Jack Hanna’s Into the Wild.

He returns to SEWE for two shows at the Gaillard Auditorium and will be sure to have a lot to share from his recent trip to Rwanda’s Akagera National Park, Nyungwe Forest, and Parc des Vulcans. For more information on Hanna and his adventures, visit www.jackhanna.com. — Laura Zapp FRIDAY @ 3 p.m., SATURDAY @ 11 a.m. (Gaillard)


See Spot Jump

The Purina Incredible Dog Show

Slack pet owners who are unable to teach their dogs to do much more than shake might not to want to take their pets to the Purina Incredible Dog Show for fear they may get an inferiority complex. A staple SEWE event, the Purina Incredible Dog Show presents the very best in pooch play with acrobatic and freestyle routines. Lou Mack leads the team of six trainers.

Proving that you can teach old dogs new tricks is famed Purina Incredible dog Kirby the K-9 Comet, a 12-year-old Australian Shepherd who’s a prime example that good exercise and proper nutrition can lead to a happy and healthy senior pet. Whether your favorite dog is Buddy, the 5-year-old Pit Bull/Heeler mix with a supernatural leaping ability, or “Air Max,” a 10-year-old Jack Russell Terrier capable of doing a full handstand in the palm of Mack’s hand, crowds will find themselves mesmerized by both the incredible feats of these dogs and the relationship of trust between the trainer and trainee. According to team member Annette Alfonso, “Training begins with a strong relationship between owner and pet which encourages dog owners to set realistic training goals.”

Alfonso says it’s important to identify your dog’s individual talents. “The better communicator the owner is, the better able dogs are to meet their expectations,” she says. The Purina Incredible Dog Show is one of SEWE’s most popular events for all ages. — Laura Zapp FRIDAY, SATURDAY, SUNDAY @ 10:30 a.m., 12:30 p.m., 3:30 p.m. (Marion Square)


Grillin’ on the River

The Grilling Village

Spicing up the silver anniversary lineup is the new site for SEWE at Brittlebank Park, on Lockwood Boulevard next to the Ashley River. Set away from the hustle and bustle of downtown, this laid-back location with great views of the water and marina will be home to a new attraction, the Grilling Village, sponsored by Piggly Wiggly. There will be live music and good eats on the lazy river with Jimmy Hagood of Blackjack BBQ and Tidewater Catering providing hearty grub. The Bluestone Ramblers, made up of Sandy Nivens, Keith McCullough, Allen Thompson (pictured), and local legend Cletus Ledbetter, are set to serenade on the banks of the Ashley River all weekend from noon to 5 with a steady score of traditional fiddle tunes and bluegrass breakdowns.

“We play every Monday night at Yo Burrito and some of the people from the Southeastern Wildlife Exposition came and heard us play,” says an excited Nivens. “They said we would be perfect for the Grilling Village so we’re really looking forward to it.”

Let your taste buds lead the way, as the Grilling Village will be hosting some of the area’s best chefs serving up creative masterpieces in a fully-equipped outdoor kitchen as well as the latest grilling equipment on exhibition. Guests eager to prove their potential and be rightfully crowned ‘grill-master’ are encouraged to lay their ladles on the line in the grilling competition.

The Grilling Village will also host a number of cooking demonstrations concocting savory grilled and barbecue treats. And when you’re done gorging, Clear Channel will host tired eaters in their “Grill n’ Chill” lounge tent. — Laura Zapp FRIDAY, SATURDAY from 10 a.m.-6 p.m., SUNDAY from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. (Brittlebank Park)


Wildlife Wonderland

Busch Wildlife Sanctuary

Busch Wildlife Sanctuary returns to the Holy City with four presentations at the Gaillard Auditorium. A festival favorite, this up-close approach to wildlife education provides big wow factor. “Our presentation focuses on Southeastern wildlife and animals in this region,” says executive director David Hitzig. “It’s funny because you can watch the Discovery Channel or Animal Planet and learn about all these exotic animals but it is much more difficult to learn about the animals you find in your own backyard.”

Established in 1983 in Florida, Busch Wildlife Sanctuary serves as an oasis for injured and orphaned animals, existing also as a nonprofit, educationally-based care facility. “Many of the animals we use as a part of our show are former patients and their injuries were too severe to release them back into the wild,” explains Hitzig. “At the same time it’s nice because these animals in turn become ambassadors of education for their species.”

As a part of its Environment Outreach Program, the Busch Wildlife Sanctuary Animal Show allows animal lovers of all ages a chance to come face to face with an assortment of different species, including hawks, eagles, alligators, bobcats, and skunks. Hitzig will be joined on stage by fellow Busch Wildlife expert Angeline Scotten, Hitzig’s wife Deania and their eight-year-old son Mason, who will be assisting his parents. “We want to show people the animals in their region, although we will have some non-natives in our presentation.” said Hitzig. “We do want to educate our audiences about how animals become endangered. If people know more about how our actions affect animals, we can prevent future endangerment. We’re here to tell success stories.”

With a message of respect for all living creatures and habitats, the Busch Wildlife Sanctuary Shows will leave audiences wanting to know how they too can help save injured and endangered animals. For more information on the Busch Wildlife Sanctuary, visit www.buschwildlife.com. ­ — Laura Zapp FRIDAY @ 11 a.m., SATURDAY @ 3 p.m., SUNDAY @ 12 p.m. (Gaillard)


An Extraordinary Family Affair

The Edisto Island Serpentarium

Slithering into the spotlight of this year’s Southeastern Wildlife Exposition is South Carolina’s own Edisto Island Serpentarium, with two shows in Marion Square. After more than 50 years of experience in snake hunting, brothers Ted and Heyward Clamp founded the modern indoor facility, located just outside Charleston, which houses an array of indigenous reptiles of the southeastern United States. Caring for these scaly scavengers remains a family affair for the Clamps. Both brothers work to educate the Lowcountry on reptiles and amphibians. Accompanying Ted and Heyward to the Southeastern Wildlife Exposition this year is Ted’s daughter Melissa Ann Clamp, who will assist in the live presentations scheduled for Fri., Feb. 16.

Although this year’s presentation will depend on how cold it is, the Clamp Family remains excited and optimistic, according to Brenda Clamp. “We have to wait and see what the weather is like before we can bring some of the animals. We have planned on bringing a land tortoise but, because this is a tropical species, we have to make sure the temperatures are appropriate,” she says. “The land tortoise is very friendly and children will have a chance to feed it.”

Special appearances by the Serpentarium’s resident albino Burmese python, Lemondrop, are sure to intrigue passersby, with the serpent stretching a hefty 12 feet in length. “We will have a variety of snakes on display, including venomous locals like the copperhead and moccasin as well as some nonvenomous,” says Clamp.

Along with live presentations, the Edisto Island Serpentarium will also offer educational demonstrations and some hands-on audience bonding, although the majority of reptiles will remain in glass-fronted protective cages. Take a walk on the wild side and get the skinny on snakes by visiting the Edisto Island Serpentarium shows, sure to make for an unforgettable eyeful of the animal kingdom’s most misunderstood family members. — Laura Zapp FRIDAY @ 1 p.m., SATURDAY, SUNDAY @ 4 p.m. (Marion Square)