Adam Farbman, teacher specialist at the Earth and Space Science Laboratory, holds Drupal, an 11-year-old green iguana who weighs in at about 8 pounds.

Drupal owns the place.

If he chooses, he can bask under a sun lamp all day while eating salad greens and carrots.

Or he can wander the halls freely and visit with the other critters that populate the Earth and Space Science Laboratory in Frederick.

Drupal is an 11-year-old green iguana who weighs in at 8 pounds.

And he is clearly the king of all he surveys.

Adam Farbman, co-director of the ESSL, has even built iguana-sized steps on a few of the steeper displays to make it easier for Drupal, who is slowing down in his old age, to climb up and visit his friends, which Farbman says he does often.

The ESSL, a part of Frederick County Public Schools, is celebrating its 10th anniversary in the current facility, which includes a planetarium.

Each year every FCPS student from first through fifth grades gets to visit.

Farbman says that ESSL works closely with teachers and the curriculum department at FCPS to be sure their presentations coincide with what is being taught in the schools.

Last school year, 17,500 kids spent about two hours there learning about habitats, ecosystems and the life cycles of various organisms.

Lisa Bruck, the other co-director at ESSL, said six continents are represented by a total of 46 different species, including lizards, snakes, fish, amphibians, insects, birds, and crustaceans.

Laurel Tokar, who works at ESSL caring for the animals by feeding and cleaning their tanks, likes being part of an environment that “teaches people to respect these creatures and not to fear them.”

Farbman describes the experience as “part Willie Wonka and part Steve Irwin.”

In a reference to the movie “Night at the Museum,” he says that he can only imagine what Drupal and the other critters do when they lock the doors and leave for the night.

The ESSL is open some evenings for the public to visit free of charge. The planetarium show costs $6. For more information, visit https://

(1) comment


Always support teaching kids about nature and getting them to interact with it. That said, would be much more interested in having more native species for the kids to see and interact with to develop an appreciation for local wildlife.

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