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Up close and personal with exotic animals at wildlife festival in Regina

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WATCH: Many in Regina had the chance to get up close and personal with exotic animals this weekend, as a way of promoting conservation and education. Katelyn Wilson explains – Jan 13, 2019

A cross-country festival is giving adults and children in Regina the opportunity to get up close and personal with exotic animals, in order to promote education and conservation.

“A lot of the animals we have aren’t anything people in Saskatchewan get to see,” Reptile expert, Jason Clevett said. “It’s a really great opportunity for us to educate [people] about some common pets, but also some things that kids and adults alike are never going to see.”

READ MORE: Increased popularity of exotic pets in New Brunswick causes growing concerns

The festival is hosted by the Foundation for Animal Rescue and Education  and Little Ray’s Nature Centre, one of the largest exotic rescues in Canada.

Most of the animals on display, including a 17-foot python named Tinkerbell, have been rescued from various situations.

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“When there [are] crocodilians that are unwanted, or when Drumheller’s Reptile World shut down, or someone is in over their head because they got a snake that’s going to get too big, it’s a company like Little Ray’s that takes those animals in, rescues them, rehabilitates them and finds them new homes,” Clevett said.

In Canada, any animal that is not a cat or a dog is considered exotic and with exotic pet laws varying from province to province, the focus is on education and conservation.

READ MORE: Ontario one of easiest provinces to buy an exotic animal.

Helping spread the message is one of the festival’s main attractions, a two-toed sloth named Chloe.

“Sloths are the number two most smuggled animal on earth for the illegal pet trade,” Clevett said. “There’s a wild component as well as how we can respect nature both in our backyard and internationally. There’s a lot we can do even in Canada to help both our native species and animals around the world.”

Other more familiar animals were also on hand, including a ferret, parrots and rabbits. By starting to educate at a young age, Clevett said the hope is to create a better future for exotic animals and help prevent unwanted pets.

READ MORE: Calgary Humane Society overwhelmed after huge seizure of exotic animals

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“To instill that in them now and have that experience, this is something a lot of these kids and even adults are never going to forget for their entire lives.”

Sunday marked the last day of the festival’s tour in Regina. The next stop will be Medicine Hat, Alberta before making its way back to Saskatoon the first week of February.

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