News

Croc Talk thanks community, responds to critics

Croc Talk gained some breathing room after the community helped the conservation and rescue business raise over $8,000.

Owners Doug Illman and Brenda Bruce said that they were very appreciative of the community response and claim that there are big things to come for Croc Talk.

"We have raised close to $8,600, which has just been incredible. I can't say thank you enough to the community," said Illman.

Bruce explained that there are a number of different costs that Croc Talk has to deal with on a monthly basis.

"It costs us over $8,000 a month . . . we still need donations coming in—we don't take it lightly that people are helping us out that way."

Croc Talk was hit hard when a Ministry of Environment law change in April, 2010, made it illegal for the business to showcase some of its animals until Croc Talk received zoo status.

Illman and Bruce have applied to the Ministry of Environment and the Ministry of Forests for provisional zoo status and are expecting that they will acquire this by the end of January.

If that is achieved, Illman and Bruce are confident that things will be on the upswing for Croc Talk.

Comments flooded into the Capital News website after the newspaper ran a story explaining that Croc Talk needed to raise funds quickly or the animals would be in danger of being euthanized.

Some were in support of Croc Talk and and said that the business benefits the community.

"(Doug Illman) is doing his part to enrich the community, educate our children and raise awareness of very serious issues facing our world's animals and natural resources," commented Shannon Rose Kennelly.

"Croc Talk deserves every last penny that people fundraise for them; I hope that we are able to keep it up and running," said Mia Breanne Shiosaki.

But others weren't so fond of the way Croc Talk was handling business.

"This infuriates me. I worked on an event a few years ago for these people. They were beyond ungrateful for the hard work we did for them; we raised over $8,000 for their shelter," said Amy Shannon.

"I see Doug drinking Starbucks often in town. He owns an iPhone and drives a $20,000 to $30,000 company vehicle."

Bruce was quick to respond to this comment.

"We know who that came from. Everybody has an opinion; but the truth is the truth," said Bruce.

"It's so wrong. It was just a personal way to cause controversy. That's one individual; that's not popular opinion."

Illman shook his head at the iPhone accusation and coffee drinking critique.

"This is a business world. I drink cheap Starbucks, it's 30 cents more than Tim Hortons—give me a break."

Another reader suggested that the animals have no business being held outside of their natural environment.

"On the surface it all seems to be a noble cause; however, practical it is not," said Denise Walker.

Illman admitted that Walker's comment was a valid one; however, he said there are reasons he can't just return the animals.

"These animals needed to be cared for because people didn't want them anymore. Then they became illegal. Unlike the SPCA that can put animals into adopted homes, I can't. These animals are prohibited," said Illman.

"I can't put them out in the wild, their life expectancy would be a lot shorter. That's why we've created the educational program."

Other readers noted that Croc Talk has been talking about becoming a nonprofit organization for years; however, it is still a private business. They noted that they would be more comfortable helping out the conservation and rescue effort if it was officially a nonprofit organization.

"It's been a major learning curve; we still don't know all the ins and outs of nonprofit," said Bruce.

"We are a family who came into a situation and went with it. We do not make a profit, never have. We don't do the business to make a profit."

Bruce said that Croc Talk is still in the process of finding out what needs to be done to become a nonprofit organization. According to Illman, it's not possible for Croc Talk to become a nonprofit until it has received a provisional zoo permit.

As for the future, Illman and Bruce are hopeful that—after receiving a provisional zoo permit—they will be able to turn the tables and start giving back to the community instead of asking the community to give to them.

"It's anticipated that after we get our zoo status, everything changes for us. Investment follows and we (will be) able to satisfy markets that we have not been able to satisfy before," said Bruce.

"Will we be requiring aid financially? Potentially, but we will have different avenues we can go to, which are government related. We would be in a position, I would think, that we would be able to bump up our giving back to the community."

Illman doesn't want to have to the ask the community for anymore money in the years to come.

"Us repeating the past and this winter again—I don't see that happening."

wpaterson@kelownacapnews.com

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