CSU Reptile Expert Stars in New Animal Planet Series

COLUMBUS, Ga. - When Jason Clark joined Columbus State University last fall as Oxbow Meadows’ animal specialist, he had just finished his role in the filming of a new Animal Planet Channel reality series.

Snakes’Kin, debuting Monday, April 12 at 10 p.m., follows the adventures of Clark and his wife, Sarah, operating their family business, Southeastern Reptile Rescue, near Griffin, Ga.

The Clarks, licensed for nuisance wildlife removal, reptile adoption and wildlife education, are depicted in the show taking about 20 calls a day to round up copperheads, cottonmouths, rattlesnakes, gators, lizards and iguanas. Animal Planet has promoted the show in part by using Clark’s slogan for his rescue operation: “Preserving Nature One Snake at a Time.”

Animal Planet will air Snakes’Kin in back-to-back, half-hour episodes at 10 p.m. over consecutive Monday nights, from April 12-26.

Jason Clark handling snake at Oxbow Meadows last fall. A production crew followed Clark and family members during a 16-month span starting in 2008. The crew filmed as many as 12 straight days and took breaks that lasted from weeks to a month.

Though filming was completed prior to Clark, right, joining CSU, Oxbow Meadows appears in one of the episodes — when Clark was called to retrieve an alligator.

The crew filmed as many as 16 hours in a day. “After a while, we got so accustomed to the crew, we forgot we were on camera. When you reach that point, you act completely natural... This literally was reality television,” Clark said.

Illustrating that point, the crew on one day wanted to film Clark starting his day from the moment he got out of bed. “I told them my wake-up time was 6:50,” he said. “The next morning, I awoke early — about six — to the whole crew in my bedroom with the cameras rolling. I just rolled over and went back to sleep.”

Overall, Clark said he and his family had a great time with the project. “The producers showed us the episodes, and we’re very happy with the outcome.”

In his new role at Oxbow Meadows Environmental Learning Center, Clark oversees Columbus State’s growing reptile collection, which is used in academic classes and shared with the public in such events as the center’s annual Reptile Fest, this year set for April 10.

Clark’s family continues to operate Southeastern Reptile Rescue.