The emphasis of our captive collection is on species which are found in the wild in Ontario, since that is the main focus of our educational programs. We maintain one of the most complete collections representing live Ontario herpetofauna in captivity in the province. Our animals come from a variety of sources.
We have produced many species within our collection, and obtained individuals which have been bred and born in other zoos and licensed facilities. We strive to find specimens which have been produced in captivity.
We generally disapprove of the removal of animals from the wild, though we do feel that it is justified in some cases for legitimate educational or research efforts. Some of our animals are unfortunate examples of illegal collection from the wild, or rescues for health or habitat loss reasons. Examples of our Ontario species include the Eastern Fox Snake, Northern Water Snake, Black Rat Snake, Wood Turtle, Spotted Turtle, Stinkpot Turtle and Grey Treefrog.
Another area of interest encompasses species which are found elsewhere in Canada, such as the Bullsnake and Western Hognose Snake.
We also maintain a substantial number of exotic species in our collection. Many of our programs include information about appropriate pet reptiles such as Corn Snakes, and inappropriate pets such as Burmese Pythons or Boa Constrictors. We have a fair number of exotic snake species to facilitate this, and to provide additional opportunities during the hands-on part of our programs.
Our collection includes a few exotic lizards that are well suited to the type of programs that we do, such as the Blue-tongued Skink and Fat-tailed Geckos. Most lizards are not suitable for our programs, as they have claws and teeth. They tend to be more skittish than snakes, in part because, unlike snakes, lizards have external ears and can hear the noise generated by excited children!
Other examples of our exotic species include the Texas Rat Snakes, tricoloured Milk Snakes, Ball Python, Brazilian Rainbow Boa, Sand Boa and Leopard Gecko.
We are often asked about the size of our collection. While it does fluctuate somewhat due to births, deaths and acquisitions, we generally have approximately 100 working snakes at any given time. This allows us to rotate them so that they all get some time off! Turtles, lizards, and amphibians bring the total number of individual animals to over 100, representing about 30 species. It is a lot of work maintaining a collection of this size and scope!
We do not purchase animals for resale — we are not a pet shop, nor are we reptile dealers. Breeding at the facility occurs in a very limited fashion. If we have offspring that are beyond the needs of our programs, we do make them available to suitable homes or educational facilities, depending upon the species. We sometimes accept donations of unwanted pet reptiles if they are of a suitable nature for our programs. This is how some of current “employees” came to us!