Scaly Adventures: Upstate family pursues son’s dream of working with animals
When Pierce Curren was around 8, his father Rick found a red-bellied brown snake in their yard and brought it inside. Rick knew Pierce had always loved reptiles from a young age, so he decided to let him keep the small snake as a pet.
“He ran in and got on the Internet, researched everything and learned as much as he could,” said Tanya Curren, Pierce’s mom. “He kept that little one — it was a red-bellied brown snake that we named Chester. Chester lived for about a year, and that’s what started it all.”
Now 16, Pierce and his parents work together to produce and star in an educational TV show called “Pierce’s Scaly Adventures” that airs internationally, reaching 2.2. billion homes a year. In its fifth season, the show features the Curren family traveling to different locations to profile exotic animals and adventure-type entertainment.
“Pierce is the youngest person in the world with an animal and adventure series with international television distribution. We started when he was only 9 years old,” Rick said.
The family of three, who live outside of Greenville, decided to film their own reality show after a series of unfortunate events inspired them to follow Pierce’s dream of working with animals.
A former nationally board certified teacher, Tanya was in a serious accident in 2004 that left her in a coma. The doctors warned Rick she only had a few hours to live, so he prayed, begging God to save her. She recovered not long after.
Then Rick was laid off from a high-paying job, and the family had to adapt to a new way of life.
The couple decided not to waste precious time and to devote themselves to their son, teaching him important life lessons and ethics, using their faith as a guide. Part of that meant encouraging his interest in reptiles and other animals.
“When we talk to parent’s groups, we tell them, ‘You’ll know when your kids find that thing they love. It’s what keeps them up at night and gets them up early in the morning,’” Rick said. “That little snake was it for Pierce.”
A new adventure begins
With no money, help or experience, the family of three began taping educational videos in their yard, which Pierce hosted. They started a simple website for him so that other children could also learn about reptiles.
“We actually never had any plans to do a television series,” Tanya said. “We were simply encouraging him to learn and share his love of snakes and reptiles in a fun way with other kids.”
After getting positive feedback from others online, the Currens created a sample of their show and took it to a National Religious Broadcaster’s conference in Nashville, where a distributor from Russia decided to take a chance and release it internationally on multiple networks.
“They said if you film it, edit it, produce it and give it to us, we’ll do a trade — we’ll air it and pay to translate it into Russian and Ukrainian,” Tanya said. “It means we do all the work, but we own it all. What’s awesome about that is that we can guarantee it’s family friendly content, and that is huge to us.”
The show began airing in 2013 and became a hit, broadcast on such inspirational channels as Daystar. It can be seen at 12 p.m. Saturdays on the national channel.
“In creating ‘Scaly Adventures’ our passion was to create a positive, family friendly TV show that parents and kids could watch together,” Rick said. “We also desired to inspire others to overcome fears and pursue their dreams. We are living proof that you can do anything you set your mind to doing. When we started filming, I had been laid off from a $200,000-a-year sales job I secretly loathed. We taught ourselves how to film, edit, produce and distribute the show. We have no production company or studio backing and never have.”
It’s all about family
The heart and soul of the Currens’ endeavor has always been a theme about family and giving back, Tanya said.
“Pierce’s Scaly Adventures” does more than educate children about animals. The family uses the opportunity to spotlight worthwhile organizations and careers, such as veterinarians, police officers, educators and military officers. The fifth season, which is currently in production, will feature local groups such as Greenville City Police and Anderson County Sheriff’s Office as well as organizations from across the United States. The family travels often for filming, typically spotlighting places and adventures Pierce himself chooses to explore.
The Currens also do presentations for school groups, camps and organizations and offer birthday party entertainment throughout the Upstate. Children have always responded well to another child teaching them about exotic animals, Tanya said. Pierce receives fan mail often through the show’s website from children as far away as Australia wanting to be his friend.
He always responds to them with words of encouragement, she said.
As for Pierce, the real star of the show, he’s now a teenager who clearly loves his parents, trading friendly banter with them during this interview.
“It’s always interesting working with your parents,” he said with a laugh. “My mother is my manager of all sorts, so anywhere I go, she’s there. My dad does pretty much all of the work behind the scenes.”
While he appreciates the opportunities “Pierce’s Scaly Adventures” has given him to learn new things and experience other places, he’s already thinking ahead to the future and a possible career as a veterinarian.
Humble and polite, he said he’s grateful for having parents that always encourage him.
“Whatever I want to follow, my parents jump right in and always have,” he said. “I’d like to continue doing the show for as long as it has value to us and to others. Children these days don’t have a lot of role models on television, so I take that very seriously.”
His mother agreed.
“There’s not a lot of quality television for teens to watch that’s cool, so we try to fill that niche,” Tanya said. “We never expected it to get so big, but we also knew the value of having a family friendly show like this and what was needed in the world.”
“It’s not a show about snakes,” Pierce added. “We use animals to teach kids important lessons on everything from antibullying and antidrugs to antiracism. We do it in a way that’s fun and relatable and inspiring, or at least, that’s what we’re aiming for.”
Need birthday party entertainment?
The Curren family of “Pierce’s Scaly Adventures” offers birthday party entertainment for a variety of ages. Birthday kids are made a junior Scaly intern and get to help during the party, which includes presentations of animals, activities and more.
To learn more, contact the family via their website at www.scalyadventures.com.
You can watch
Watch “Pierce’s Scaly Adventures” at noon Saturdays on Daystar, or find a local listing through the show’s website at www.scalyadventures.com.