Paul Allen has been a neighbor of the reserve since moving from Ocala in 1997. He moved to East Naples because he wanted to pursue his hobby of wildlife photography, and knew he would have access to millions of acres of protected areas and cypress swamps where wildlife abounds.
Paul grew up around circuses and zoos, and has always had a soft spot for reptiles. He has worked with alligators and snakes, both for pay and for fun. His favorite reptile is the Eastern diamondback rattlesnake. He doesn't just like them, he handles them frequently, and has kept records of every individual he has caught numbering over 600! Paul has come to the rescue of many rattlesnakes in his time, and has always taken the time to help others get over their fear and better understand the gentle nature of these animals – yes, they are gentle, even though they can be deadly.
Paul first visited the Environmental Learning Center in 2008 and, after seeing the red rat on exhibit, decided to volunteer his time to help educate our visitors during his weekly snake talk. He has also removed more than 1,000 poisonous Bufo toads from his neighborhood over the past four years, a testament to his dedication to native wildlife.
In 2015 Paul logged his 1,000th hour volunteering. He has helped educate thousands of visitors, and has also been helpful to the research and resource management department by monitoring reserve lands for the presence of Burmese pythons.