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Reptile camp owner trying to get back on track after tragic fire

'Whether people think we are closed or people are just trying to leave us alone to get back on our feet but we are ready to go and ready to do bookings'
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Steve Featherstone with a baby spectacled caiman. Photo submitted.

Steve Featherstone, owner of a Reptile Camp which was ravaged by fire is still trying to pick up the pieces of his local business.

A fire on September 21st, 2018 killed as many as 70 of his animals and destroyed many of his reptile enclosures located in the garage.  The fire started in a wood stove that was being used after a power outage in the area.

Featherstone uprooted his Hamilton-based business and moved to Bonfield in the fall of 2016.  

No matter what community he was in, Featherstone was always proud to be able to say his business was growing year after year.

But the fire has put a damper on that growth and now times are tough.

“This year we are a lot slower, a lot less shows,” admitted Featherstone who offers to bring his animals to birthday parties and school events.   

“Whether people think we are closed or people are just trying to leave us alone to get back on our feet but we are ready to go and ready to do bookings.”  

Despite business being slow, he says the public support has been good.

“Every event we do we have people coming up and expressing their sorrows for us and their thoughts on it and it obviously brings it all back and eventually we want to get back to normal and put smiles on kids faces while teaching them about the animals along with building quality programs for the community,” he said.  

See related: Donations pour in for burned out reptile park

See related: 70 animals perish in garage fire

Featherstone says through adoptions he has been able to bring in new reptiles to replace the ones that perished in the blaze.  

“It has been pretty easy, most of our animals are rescues through OSPCA and the Humane Society along with private individuals,” he said.

“That is the unfortunate part of this industry is that it is a pretty big turnover industry.  People buy pets and don’t know what they are getting into. People maybe are not legally allowed to house them where they live and they don’t know the bylaws or people just grow tired of them or grow tired of taking care of them, so there’s always animals available.”

Now Featherstone is hoping to try and get things back to normal by the summer time, but that will be hard to do.  

“We have not started rebuilding yet,” he admitted.  

“We will be ready for some limited summer camp programs this year, but we are not offering as many weeks as last year.  We have a lot less animals than we did so we just need to be cognitive of that with the bookings and any events we are doing.”   

Chris Dawson

About the Author: Chris Dawson

Chris Dawson has been with since 2004. He has provided up-to-the-minute sports coverage and has become a key member of the BayToday news team.
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