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The Zoo-sperience Redefining the Family Pet Store

Goanna with small speckled egg in mouth BDmag January 2024

An exotic Townsville reptile shop is daring to take a walk on the wild side to break the stereotypical mould of a traditional family pet store.

Animal Kingdom Australia, located off Ingham Road in West End, features an array of scaly and slippery pets for adoption including snakes, lizards, goannas, and turtles.

The shop was opened by former Billabong Sanctuary Zookeeper and Zoologist Alex Reynolds along with Invictus Games Athlete and Silver Medal winner Tyrone Gawthorne in September last year.

Initially, the idea sprung up between the two friends who identified a gap in the Townsville pet store market and decided to offer something different to their competitors.

Alex says the response from the community over the last few months had been extremely positive.

“I think everyone has an inquisitive nature, but most reptiles are an unknown to an ordinary person, so everyone is loving coming in and having a look around,” he says.

Zoologist Alex Reynolds holding Argus Monitor 

BDmag

January 2024
Zoologist Alex Reynolds

“I really love seeing the kids come in and they are so scared to walk through the door but then they get to hold the lizards and snakes and they leave loving the animals.”

Alex adopted his first reptile when he was 14 years old and soon after started breeding his own lizards and snakes.

Currently, the shop offers more than 15 different types of reptile and snake breeds for sale, which Alex personally breeds by pairing the mates and incubating the eggs.

He says the shop thrives on a daily routine which is shared in conjunction with part-time Animal Specialist Chelsea Lee.

“I run it like I am at a zoo, so we clean the enclosures, remove all the poo and put water in the bowls every morning,” he says

Animal specialist Chelsea Lee holding bearded dragon in right hand and shingleback lizard in left. 

BDmag 

January 2024
Animal specialist Chelsea Lee

“We feed most of our snakes frozen rats and our bearded dragon lizards eat greens and insects every day and then the shingleback and blue tongue lizards have their mince mixture we make.”

Alex says the most popular animal with customers to date was the bearded dragon lizard.

“Bearded dragons are such interactive pets so I push for people to look at the dragons because they are great for kids and you can get it out and it will sit on your shirt and watch a movie,” he says.

“But also, the spotted pythons and children’s pythons are proving to be super popular with families too.”

Animal Kingdom Australia also offers continuity of care to their customers and all the required accessories needed to keep a reptile as a pet including enclosures, heat lamps, terrarium décor, bedding and food.

Alex says he has plans to expand the store in the next 12 months to offer educational talks and birthday parties for kids.

“We were just going to be an animal-based pet store but I didn’t want to just sell animals without people knowing the care and conditions the animals need to be kept in,” he says.

“I am applying for an animal exhibitors permit so people can hold the animals and we will have a big Connect Four soon so kids can play a game with our permanent resident Maui, the blue and gold macaw.

“Also, considering a large number of the animals are nocturnal, we want to do Jurassic nights in the back lounge area so kids can come here at night and look at those animals in action too.”

Image credits: Images supplied.

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Elisabeth Silvester

Elisabeth Silvester

Elizabeth is a freelance writer who enjoys writing about tourism and travel. Graduating from The University of Queensland with a Bachelor of Business and Journalism, she previously worked as cadet journalist for The Townsville Bulletin.
Elisabeth Silvester

Elisabeth Silvester

Elizabeth is a freelance writer who enjoys writing about tourism and travel. Graduating from The University of Queensland with a Bachelor of Business and Journalism, she previously worked as cadet journalist for The Townsville Bulletin.