Surrey's Reptile Refuge Closes to the Public

Comments 5 by Rebecca Bollwitt

I accompanied my niece’s preschool class to the Surrey Reptile Refuge several years ago. Tucked away off 176 Street it houses reptiles that have been abandoned i.e. that cute little alligator Timmy got for his birthday that soon grew 6 feet thus being too big for the family bathtub.

You can view nearly 400 animals including snakes, crocodiles, spiders, frogs, lizards, turtles and more. The Refuge is run by the Rainforest Reptile Refuge Society, which is a non-profit organization dedicated to educating the public and raising awareness about these exotic, often misunderstood, animals. [SurreyAttractions]

Mission Statement: To provide shelter and care for unwanted, abused and abandoned reptiles, amphibians and other exotic and native animal species, and encourage an awareness related to the behaviour, habitat and conservation of these animals for the benefit of the global community. [About]

The individuals who run the place are passionate about the animals, very knowledgeable but always seemed to be under a lot of stress as there was an obvious lack of funding for quite a while. Now at least 5 years after my visit, the refuge has closed its doors to the public.

The Fraser Valley’s only reptile refuge has closed its doors to the public as it runs out of funding. On Monday, the curator of the Surrey sanctuary asked council for $11,000 per month to continue operations. The request was referred to staff…

…The full-to-capacity shelter has been in financial trouble before and does not receive government funding. While the refuge is now closed to public guests, staff will continue to care for the animals as long as they can. [TheProvince]

I think the quote of the day in that Province article is, “it’s not really feasible to house crocodiles beside kittens.” No, no it’s not. These animals cannot go to the SPCA, they need this special place. But in order to even prevent this need, there has been a request for the government to step in to prevent the sale and keeping creatures like these as pets in various municipalities, at least without a specific license.

In the meantime, I think it’s wise to stick to puppies, kitties, hamsters etc. as pets because I certainly don’t want to end up in a city where a python doesn’t have a safe place to go.

To make a donation to the refuge, you can call (604) 538-1711 for more information. They also have a ‘wish list‘ up on their site including: Building supplies (wood, tools, etc.), food (fruit, vegetables, meat…), UV lighting, vet supplies and labour.

“The bottom line is these animals don’t belong in captivity; they are wild animals which aren’t domesticated.”

5 Comments  —  Comments Are Closed

  1. Paul HillsdonFriday, September 14th, 2007 — 2:18pm PDT

    That’s really unfortunate. I remember going there, probably about ten years ago, in my childhood. It’s quite amazing that they’ve survived this whole time without any governmental funding. I don’t see how Surrey could have just bought that Sports and Leisure Complex, and Camp Kwomais, for how many millions of dollars in total, and not provide the Repitle Refuge with, at least, some temporary funding. Perhaps the Refuge could look into a long term partnership with the SPCA, maybe even merging and becoming a special wing of that organization…

  2. BradleySaturday, September 15th, 2007 — 4:03pm PDT

    now that its closed to the public, is jenny gonna get lonely?

  3. LenaMonday, November 3rd, 2008 — 6:05am PST

    It is unfortunate that this Reptile Refuge had to close; yet, it’s not totally surprising!

    One cannot run a refuge, eg..SPCA, without running out of room quite fast..That’s common sense… What did they think would happen, just after a few months?? What was their plan??

    Quite a few of the reptiles could have been placed in adoptive homes without any problem, such as the obvious corn and king snakes, gheckoes, salamanders, frogs, ball pythons, etc.. These are easy to keep pets, and do make wonderful pets for families, etc…And this way, more room could have been made for the aggressive, very large snakes, caimans, etc..

    Yet, this Reptile Refuge took the very Extreme view of wanting to prohibit these easy-to-keep reptiles for pets, which really makes no sense!!

    Even Iguanas, Boa Constrictors, etc.. can be placed for adopton.. There are plenty of people who keep these animals do a fantastic job of looking and caring after them..

    I agree that the very large reptiles, like the Caimans, Burmese, and the Reticulated should require a special licence to keep, and we many need a refuge like this one for these creatures…

    To say that these reptiles, especially smaller snakes and lizards, don’t belong in the homes as pets is ludicrous and ignorant! The reasons they end up in shelters are the same reasons, majority of the time, as do dogs, hamsters and cats end up at the SPCA… peope move, get tired of the pet, naive on how to take care of them, etc..

    Also, amidst the animal and the pet community, This particular REptile Refuge has a very poor reputation… neglected animals, high death rate, volunteers are unhappy to work there, and are frustrated in the way the shelter is run… So, either this Refuge needs new leadership, new vision; of course, funding, etc.. But, as long, as this Refuge holds onto such extreme views, I am not that keen in supporting it!!

  4. CharlotteTuesday, March 17th, 2009 — 12:17pm PDT

    Dear Lena,

    You have little knowledge of the Reptile Refuge. It was not open for “a few months” as your email implied. It was started in 1986 by the Schramms.

    I volunteered there for 2 years and am still involved 4 years later. Your accusations of the Refuge neglecting animals and having a high death rate are slanderous. The volunteers worked very hard to care for these animals when nobody else would. Very few capable volunteers were able to be found because not many people wanted to deal with the smelly, stressful job in a very humid environment.

    Obviously you support the trade of exotic animals which is a shame as no exotic animal should be kept as a pet. If one truly loves, is truly so fascinated by reptiles and amphibians then I believe they would want the very best for such species, which is to be left in the wild and not kept as pets.

  5. Another volunteerSaturday, May 9th, 2009 — 2:21pm PDT

    Good riddens to the Funeral Home Of Reptiles . This place needed to close a long time ago these extremist mentally unstable greedy people that run this place should be taken out and shot. They never cared about the animals they cared for begging for cash just like the BCSPCA everytime they could get publicity.
    They should have found new homes for the animals they took in under false pretences. They murdered helpless animals right after beening born by putting them alive into the freezer to die a slow painful death. I also volunteered at this hell hole and knew the owners for a long time. It is about time this place closed for good.

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