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Creepy Animals Are Often The 'Garbage Men' Of The World

By Raetta Holdman

DENVER (CBS4) - Halloween brings images of scary animals from snakes and cockroaches to vultures and spiders.

But do those animals really deserve their creepy reputations? The Denver Zoo says, absolutely not!

Stefanie Keshock is wildlife trainer at the zoo. "I love vultures. I think they get a really bad rap," she said. "They're not the prettiest of animals but they play a huge role in our environment.

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"If we didn't have vultures, we'd have  a lot of dead and decaying things rotting in our world so it's good that they are the garbage men of the world cleaning up all of those things.

In fact many of the animals we consider creepy all work at cleaning up nature, something you might consider the next time you face a cockroach.

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"It's true, they're creepy, they're crawly," Keshock said. "They take care of a lot things, decomposing things that we don't have to worry about because they're there in our environment taking care of it for us."

The same is true of snakes.

"Snakes also get a very bad rap but they're another one, they're really great at rodent control.

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"Having them on your property especially for farmers is a great thing. They take care of rodents and other animals we don't want invading crops and different lands like that. They really help control things that should be controlled naturally."

But even Keshock admits, she's not wild about spiders.

"I would say arachnids in general hold the deepest amount of fears with people. I can agree with that one."

Still like the others, spiders help us out.

"They take care of insects. They take care of all of those things that bite us in the summer time."

Keshock says in her experience, it's adults not kids who seem to have the most fear.

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Six year old Shaley backed that up when she strolled right up to that Madagascar hissing cockroach, even touching it.

She called cockroaches cool, saying she and her younger brother loved to hunt for ants and roly-polies.

It's that brave example Keshock hopes everyone embraces when it comes to creepy critters

"They all play the role in the environment. Their role is not to interact with us It's totally okay to be freaked out by certain animals but as long as we respect them, let them live their lives  and know how important they are to our environment. It's totally okay to have our feelings but respect them."

You can learn a lot more about all of the creepy animals during Boo at the Zoo.

It's the last two Saturdays and Sundays in October.  It's also a great, safe place for kids to trick or treat. CBS4 is proud to be a partner with the Denver Zoo.

Raetta Holdman is a veteran newscast producer. She's been with CBS4 for more than 25 years, coordinating events -- large and small -- from the control room. Contact her by clicking here.


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