WINNIPEG - The owners of one of Canada's biggest collections of exotic animals are cleaning up after a fire that causes the deaths of over 1,000 rodents.
Witnesses say almost ten buildings were destroyed by the fire at Westman Reptile Gardens in Douglas, Manitoba. The fire was reportedly started by a malfunctioning electric fence, and the Shilo Fire Department from the nearby Canadian Armed Forces base was deployed to fight the blaze.
Officials say the reptiles themselves are safe and doing just fine, but their food, including all but two guinea pigs and 29 cages of rats, as well as what was waiting in a walk-in freezer, was destroyed. The rodents were bred at the reptile garden facility to provide a sustainable diet for the large collection of tetrapods.
Family members have started a GoFundMe fundraiser to help the couple that owns the reptile collection recover, noting that, while the buildings are covered by insurance, the rodents were not.
The Westman Reptile Gardens houses a large collection of snakes, including boas and pythons and over 15 venomous varieties; alligators and crocodiles; various frogs, including poisonous arrow frogs and a large African bullfrog; spiders, turtles, and tortoises, and a large assortment of lizards. It’s located a 15-minute drive east of Brandon.