Brandon community raises money for local reptile farm devastated by fire

The community in Brandon, Man., is coming together to raise money for a reptile farm that lost thousands of rodents to a fire.

The Westman Reptile Gardens caught fire on Wednesday evening and the damage was estimated at more than $100,000.

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Owners Dave and Candi Shelvey house and sell hundreds of reptiles like cobra snakes and alligators.

Their daughter Erika Shelvey started a GoFundMe that has almost hit its $10,000 goal.

“We were all completely heartbroken, but knowing the amount of people who have our back, it just gives such a good feeling,” Erika said.

Hundreds of people have donated to the GoFundMe, and Erika says many more have stopped by to drop off donations in person.

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No reptiles were harmed in the fire, but rodents used for feed, shelters, and storage all perished.

“It was devastating,” Erika said. “Once fire crews got there, we just had to sit back and watch it all happen.”

Erika says the business has been around for almost 20 years, and it’s her father’s whole world.

“My dad has put a lot of blood sweat and tears into that building,” she said. “He absolutely loves reptiles … they are his babies.”

The business supplies reptiles to pet stores across Manitoba, and also acts as a local attraction for people to visit.

Erika said the inspectors blamed the fire on a shorted electric fence.


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