A Boy from Kalamazoo

Larry often joked he was born in a zoo . . . Kalamazoo, Michigan that is, on July 31, 1919. Larry's father was a contractor who remodeled businesses and homes. His mother, a school teacher, stayed at home to rear Larry and his younger brother Rique.

While other boys were killing snakes, Larry was fascinated by them and soon began collecting a variety of local snakes. Even though this was during the Great Depression, his parents were extremely supportive and his father used his carpentry skills to create homes for the reptiles. The backyard soon became an attraction worthy of the two cent admission charge.

Larry Tetzlaff's Reptilium

Larry’s childhood interest in reptiles continued to flourish into his later teens. He began trading with other collectors around the United States. To share his growing wonder of the animal kingdom with others, he rented a building in along Lovers Lane in Milham Park and opened his reptilium to the public.

Revenue from the long hours he put in at this business allowed Larry to attend Western Michigan University.

Following the publication of a scientific paper on the care of imported snakes, famous animal collector Frank “Bring ‘em Back Alive” Buck contacted Tetzlaff rapidly moving Larry toward a career that would take him from catching rattlesnakes in Portage Creek in Kalamazoo to wrestling with anacondas in the Rupununi River in Guyana.

But first he would head to New York City.

©Jungle Larry's Ssafari Land, Inc