Croc Talk owners face Wildife Act charges

The beleaguered owners of a defunct exotic animal refuge are facing a new round of troubles.

The beleaguered owners of a defunct exotic animal refuge are facing a new round of troubles.

Doug Illman and Brenda Bruce closed down Croc Talk last year, and now they are facing a series of charges under the provincial Wildlife Act.

Illman alone faces five charges from section 108.5 of the act, which largely has to do with the licensing requirements related to having exotic animals.

Illman and Bruce together face a series of charges under section 33.1, which has to do with attracting dangerous wildlife.

Illman declined a request to be interviewed by the Capital News on his latest series of troubles, but in the past he’s been upfront about his struggles with finances, finding appropriate shelter for the creatures he housed and convincing varying levels of government to grant licences so he could operate the zoo.

The outlook wasn’t always so dire.

Illman opened the facility in 2002, with the intention to promote conservation efforts for crocodilians, African wild cats and tortoises through educational events called “Croc Talks.”

From its inception it proved popular with visitors, but financially and legally it was less loveable. As Illman said himself on a number of occasions, the bills kept rolling in while the dollars raised never matched.

Thinkgs kept getting worse, and by 2012 the operation looked completely untenable.

Looking at a bill of $4,000 in 2012, Illman went so  far as to say he’d consider putting his creatures down if he didn’t raise funds, prompting some questions about the legitimacy of the business.

“I’m not going to Mexico; I haven’t been on a holiday in 20 years. Any income that comes in to Croc Talk, goes to Croc Talk,” Illman told a Capital News reporter at the time.

“It costs me $8,000 a month to operate this facility.”

That money provides veterinarian costs, utilities, the building lease, insurance, food and dietitian needs for the animals.

Fundraising efforts saved the day, but not for long.

By the start of 2015 the east Kelowna facility was in dire straights, having lost its business licence with the city and several of its creatures to conservation officers. Illman was even being evicted.

By summer it was shutting its doors and shipping animals off to other refuges across the country.

Illman has maintained that he opened the facility with the best of intentions, and he never got a break.

Just Posted

Kelowna’s definitive Christmas market list

We’ve prepared a list of every market in the Central Okanagan

Festival of Trees returns to West Kelowna’s Mission Hill Winery

The fundraiser for the B.C. Children’s Hospital Foundation will run Nov. 23 to Jan. 4

Proportional representation vote continues to draw low numbers

Only 6.5 per cent of eligible voters have cast ballots so far in B.C. referendum

Kelowna Skating Club skaters take home 10 medals and three provincial titles

Ava Sanderson was among the winners of the 2019 B.C and Yukon Sectional Championships

Kelowna to host World Junior pre-tournament game

Team Russia will take on Team Sweden at Prospera Place on Dec. 18

Your weekday weather update

Flurries and more rain anticipated for the Okanagan - Shuswap

Protesters confront Environment Minister in B.C.

Protesters wanting more for killer whales confront Catherine McKenna

Humans reshaping evolutionary history of species around the globe: paper

University of British Columbia researcher had the paper published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society

Toronto ‘carding’ activist Desmond Cole stopped by police in Vancouver

Cole says his experience reveals what daily life is like for black and Indigenous residents

Commercial trucks banned from left lane of Coquihalla

B.C.’s Ministry of Transportation has introduced a new program that hopes to prevent accidents and closures on the Coquihalla Highway.

B.C. on track to record same number of overdose deaths as last year

128 people died of overdoses in September, bringing the total to more than 1,100 so far in 2018

Okanagan pickleball pair win bronze at nationals

Vernon and Kelowna players reach podium in California

B.C. firefighters rescue horse stuck in mud

‘It happens more often than you’d think,’ says deputy chief

Couple allegedly caught staking out Okanagan home

The man and woman were seen in a black Suzuki Tracker with a white back

Most Read