|Circa May 1994 : Eugene
Bessette has always been a hardcore herper since long before we
met him back in the mid-to-late 1970s. Back then he tended to
specialize in a couple groups of herps early on -- vipers and boids -
which was always impressive because he did it in a large-scale and classy
way right from the start. He figured out how to breed many
species while many modern day herpers were still teething.
Besides a herpetoculturally green thumb, Eugene also possesses skills that complement his avocation-turned-profession, and that most herpers have marginally, or totally lack. Carpentry is one of them; he has always built most of his own caging systems, incorporating into their designs numerous handy ideas like ease of maintenance, shift sections, removable doors, clear "shield-tops", etc. Visiting his home-based facilities over the decades always provided inspiration that we could design better units and systems ourselves.
Record-keeping is another of Eugene's strong points; he's almost obsessive about it, but who can argue with success? When it came to setting his new mega incubators for thousands of Burmese and other python eggs, he knew exactly how he wanted them calibrated for maximum results. This shot was taken more recently in our long-term friendship as he checked one of many high-tech incubation units at Ophiological Services near Gainesville, Florida.
A third admirable attribute of Eugene's is his dedication to participating in the formulation of new legislation affecting our freedom to keep herps. He's always at the forefront in opposing stupidity in such ventures, which might often be the way they go on to become law without his active input. No matter how busy, he has always found time to address important issues when they threatened us all.