WATCH ABOVE: After 150 crocodiles, alligators and caimans were rescued from a Toronto home, the reptiles are said to be in good health and the Indian River Reptile Zoo is looking for donations to help pay for their care. Peter Kim reports.
TORONTO — A conservation group has its hands full after 150 alligators, crocodiles and caimans were rescued from a Toronto residence last week.
Many of the animals may be feeling the warmth of sunlight and swimming for the first time according to Bry Loyst, curator of the Indian River Reptile Zoo.
“This is the largest rescue of this species of animal that I’ve ever heard of,” he said.
Staff at the zoo and volunteers spent around eight hours last Friday relocating the reptiles from an undisclosed Toronto home to the rescue facility east of Peterborough.
“We rented four 26 foot trucks and loaded a lot of them into sonotubes, which are concrete tubes, and blocked off the ends,” he said.
Loyst revealed that the previous owner was a collector who approached the zoo about two years ago for help.
“Most people who have lions, tigers, bears and crocodiles do the wrong things with their exotic pets, but this individual did a lot of the right things,” said Loyst.
“He made a great donation to the crocodile rescue facility and last Friday we started helping him move his animals into a new and large habitat.”
Most of the animals are adults and aside from a lack of muscle tone, generally speaking they’re in good health and enjoying their new home.
“They’re very timid animals,” he said. “They’re not sure where they are, and it will take them a while to settle in.”
Loyst founded The Indian River Reptile Zoo in 1998. In 2001, the zoo became a training facility for federal wildlife officers and in 2009, it became a not-for-profit organization.
“Everybody loves panda bears and dogs and cats. But not too many people are rooting for reptiles, so somebody has got to root for them,” said Loyst.
The facility is looking for donations to help buy equipment for the reptiles’ new enclosure that will help keep them comfortable over the winter.