Doors snap shut one final time for Kelowna’s CrocTalk

Reptile education and conservation centre in Kelowna closes down after the province and city refuse to extend permits.

Doug Illman of the now closed CrocTalk Conservation and Rescue Centre in Kelonwa with one of 'McGators.'

After years of struggling to keep it open, the owner of CrocTalk Conservation and Rescue Centre, a Kelowna business aimed at educating the public about, and helping to promote conservation efforts for, crocodilians, African wild cats and tortoises, has closed.

Owner Doug Illman, who called CrocTalk his “dream for the community,” made the announcement on his personal Facebook page last weekend.

He said  he wanted to leave a “exciting, educational footprint in Kelowna for generations to come. To learn about these wonderful, mysterious reptiles.”

But he said when the province would not renew his zoo permit because the facility’s temporary use permit had expired for the land CrocTalk has sat on for the last 11 years and the the city refused to renew his business licence or extend the temporary use permit for another six months to allow him to relocate, the financial burden became too much. That was despite the efforts of a few dedicated supporters who tried to raise money for the facility.

Throughout the process Illman said concern for the welfare of the animals at the facility was paramount.

“My animals have never suffered and never will and with the help of my friends Paul “Little Ray” Goulet of Little Rays Reptiles in Ottawa and Lonnie McCaskill, curator at the Central Florida Zoological Park, we had to start the process of relocating my family of crocodilians, including the McGator Family we have all come to love and cherish so dearly”.

Attempts to contact Illman Thursday were unsuccessful, with his mobile phone voice mailbox reporting as full and the office number for CrocTalk no longer in service.

During it’s 11-year operation, CrocTalk seemed to face constant financial pressures, with the threat of closure seeming to regularly raise its head. But Illman managed to come through repeatedly, keeping CrocTalk open. When the facility finally closed for good last week there was a fundraising effort afoot to try and save it.

But this time there was no last minute reprieve.

“This is very hard for me to write because these animals, especially the McGators have been my life,” wrote Illman. “I will still walk with my head held high because CrocTalk has influenced thousands of families, schools, boys and girls clubs, universities/colleges and tourists throughout the years here in Kelowna.”

He said the facility had a perfect safety record and CrocTalk helped support many students who went into veterinary medicine because of its programs.

He thanked everyone who supported the facility over the years and appealed to anyone who could financially take over management of the facility to help him create what he called a new CrocTalk in Kelowna, Lake Country or West Kelowna.

But he said if that was to happen, it would need to happen quickly as “the clock is ticking down to the time my crocodilians are removed and shipped elsewhere.”

And he said once they are gone, “they will not return.”

No deadline for the animals removal was given but in closing Illman declared “the City of Kelowna needs a zoo.”

 

 

 

Just Posted

Truck fire forces evacuation of Lake Country gas station

No one was injured as firefighters quickly contained blaze at the Shell on Sunday afternoon

Gas leak contained near Lakeshore Road

Ruptured line was quickly contained Sunday morning by Kelowna Fire Department

High winds cause havoc for sailors

Kelowna Fire Department assists boats with broken masts on Okanagan Lake

Late night confrontation between two men in Peachland

RCMP was called to the scene of a physcial encounter on Saturday evening where one man was injured

Update: Police expand search in North Okanagan-Shuswap

Examination continues in Silver Creek, while another search happens between Salmon Arm and Enderby

VIDEO: Sears liquidation sales continue across B.C.

Sales are expected to continue into the New Year

Rockets raise money for autism

Western Hockey League club hosts third annual Family Day Sunday in Kelowna

WATCH: 10,000 signatures gained to stop ‘no pets’ rental policy

Pets OK BC said about 1,700 animals were surrendered to the BC SPCA last year due to housing issues

A golden opportunity

Orthodontist offers sweet deal for the pocketbook

Who is Curtis Sagmoen?

The Observer reveals what we know about the man attached to the Silver Creek property where human remains were found

VIDEO: Oprah Winfrey and a celebrities attend ‘B.C. Miracle Concert’

Fundraiser featured Foster, Steven Tyler, The Tenors, Matteo Bocelli, Laura Bretan, Carly Rae Jepsen

First-place Warriors edge Caps, visit ‘Backs today

West Kelowna scores twice in 25 seconds early in third to overtake Cowichan Valley in BCHL action

Grab a book; thank your librarian

All libraries are cornerstones of their communities and we celebrate them during library month

Five decades of volunteering

Even though she is approaching 70, Merle kindred continues to volunteer around the world

Most Read