Mike Hopcraft and his hundreds of reptiles have found a home in Mission.
Hopcraft, known as The Reptile Guy, moved his reptile rescue and education centre from Abbotsford to Mission this summer and he said it’s been a perfect fit.
“We had an awesome summer,” he said. “It’s been endless positivity from the public and I think the idea of having something like this downtown is a great way to bring more people to downtown.”
The centre, which houses about 300 animals, gives visitors the chance to get up close and personal with a variety of creatures such as snakes, lizards, turtles, frogs, tarantulas and scorpions. Hopcraft even has a hedgehog and a macaw at his centre.
The soft opening for the facility occurred on July 28 and the official grand opening went down on Aug. 15 during Mission Fest. Hopcraft said over 600 people attended the grand opening and the time period from July 28 to Aug. 28 saw over 2,000 visitors check out the centre.
“Those numbers are huge for us,” Hopcraft said.
But the move didn’t come without a few growing pains. Hopcraft said renovations have been expensive but in the end he feels it’s worth it for the animals.
“We’re in a bit of debt,” he said. “We had to build all new enclosures because we didn’t want people to walk in and just see tanks everywhere – we wanted it to look good. The glass alone was $12,000 and now we’re trying to pay it off. It was a little more expensive than we were expecting but we have an awesome facility and it’s so much better for the animals.”
Another expense was the brand new quarantine room. Any new animal goes there for 30 days and it’s examined medically and physically before going on display or for adoption. The quarantine room is more feasible in his 4,300-square-foot facility in Mission, as opposed to the 1,250-square-foot location that he had in Abbotsford.
Hopcraft is also still waiting to receive his rescue permit from the Ministry of Environment.
Getting that certification will be a big boost for the centre and also prevent animals from being euthanized.
“We’ll be the only reptile rescue in BC that is legally allowed to take in crocodilians, venomous and larger snakes and anything the MOE deems is a public safety threat,” he said. “Often if these animals are found they are euthanized on the spot. If we had that permit we could take them in and find a home for them. It’ll be a big thing for us; we want to give these animals a chance.”
The fall and winter will see Hopcraft both host and visit a number of schools with an interactive reptile show. Children get the chance to handle, become more comfortable with and learn more about his animals during the shows.
He said the eventual plan for his building is to expand to the downstairs and use the entire area as a quarantine room.
One way businesses and the local public can help support the centre is through its sponsorship program. Each enclosure is available for sponsorship and the funds help Hopcraft pay the bills.
The centre is open every day in downtown Mission from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. For more information, visit thereptileguy.info.