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Reptilia London opens to overwhelming response despite municipal bylaw

A Nile crocodile is seen at Reptilia London in London, Ont. in April 2023. (Daryl Newcombe/CTV News London) A Nile crocodile is seen at Reptilia London in London, Ont. in April 2023. (Daryl Newcombe/CTV News London)

The doors have opened at Reptilia London two months after city council decided not to exempt the zoo from the Animal Control Bylaw.

On Saturday, the indoor zoo at Westmount Commons Mall began displaying both native and exotic reptiles in its 40,000 sq. ft. facility.

According to Reptilia, the number of visitors over the first two days exceeded expectations.

“An overwhelming response having not advertised at all,” said Michael Lerner, a lawyer representing Reptilia. “We are delighted!”

The zoo includes snakes, turtles, lizards, American alligators, and a pair of Nile crocodiles.

On Feb. 14, city council closed the door on Reptilia’s request to amend business licensing rules and the Animal Control Bylaw that forbid the display of exotic species.

In March, Zoocheck Canada told CTV News London that it filed a complaint with municipal bylaw enforcement after a social media post announced an exotic snake had been relocated to the indoor zoo.

Lerner said during the final stages of construction representatives of the city visited.Reptilia London at Westmount Commons Mall in London, Ont. is seen in April 2023. (Daryl Newcombe/CTV News London)

“We have not received any further communication from the city,” he explained. “We’ve also had the provincial authorities in and they have approved everything that we have done.”

Reptilia maintains that provincial licencing supersedes the municipality’s animal bylaw.

Lerner told CTV News London that there has been no warnings or fines from the city.

“If there is, we’ll respond in an appropriate manner. It’s no longer a political issue. It’s a legal issue and if it requires a response from us through the courts, that’s exactly what we will do,” he said.

A snake is seen at the new Reptilia London location at London, Ont.'s Westmount Commons Mall in April 2023. (Daryl Newcombe/CTV News London) Top Stories

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