Circa Fall 1997 : Dave & Tracy Barker of Vida Preciosa International (VPI) have carved a niche for themselves in the annals of herpetoculture through long-term, professionally conducted devotion to the pursuit.  Their fulltime hobby evolved into a business with their move to central Texas and creation of a large-scale breeding compound set up to facilitate concentration on their specialty - boas and pythons.  Sales of offspring have helped start the colonies of hundreds of herpers to follow, but supplying captive bred snakes to the market isn't their only contribution.  Their willingness to share their successes and findings in numerous articles and several books has proven that they take huge pride in passing on their knowledge for future generations.  

We met Dave when he was a keeper at the Dallas Zoo (inset pic, circa May 1978, assist-feeding a stubborn emerald tree boa on display).   He gave us the grand herp house tour, and continued his hospitality into the evening with a visit to his favorite Mexican restaurant in town.   We knew Tracy a bit later when she spent time in Gainesville at the University of Florida.   Her apartment even then housed a varied collection of "mainly uni-colored pythons".