Officials with Reptilia, the planned indoor reptile zoo in London’s southwest end, revealed late Wednesday that they had moved a large Burmese python into a habitat at the facility despite being denied a by-law exemption to exhibit such animals last month.
“Bane the Burmese Python all moved into his new habitat at Reptilia London,” a post on the zoo’s Facebook page reads. “Countless hours have gone into replicating their habitats perfectly.”
Reptilia has set up shop in Westmount Commons and is expected to open sometime this month. The zoo’s website says the London location will feature 28,000 sq. ft. of indoor exhibits, self-guided and private tours, live shows and feedings, and other attractions.
Reptilia still intends to display exotic animals in London, says lawyer
The announcement comes roughly two weeks after city council rejected Reptilia’s request for an exemption under London’s animal control bylaw relating to restrictions prohibiting the ownership and display of what are known as “Class 7 animals.”
According to the bylaw, Class 7 animals are considered to be “any animal of a type normally found in a wild and natural state, whether or not it has been bred and/or raised in captivity,” such as venomous lizards, snakes, and spiders, large cats, bears, wolves, monkeys, kangaroos, and elephants, among others.
Council members also voted down proposed amendments to the city’s business licensing by-law, including the creation of an “Exotic Animal Establishment” designation.
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Following the vote, Michael Learner, a lawyer representing Reptilia, told Global News that the zoo intended to exhibit exotic animals despite the outcome.
Global News reached out to Lerner on Thursday for comment but did not receive a response by publishing time.
In November, a lawyer representing McCor Managment, Wesmount Mall’s management firm, told members of the community and protective services committee that, in his legal opinion, Reptilia was already exempt from the city by-law as it operated under a provincial licence.
The bylaw says it does not apply to animals “maintained in a public park, zoo, fair, exhibition or circus operated or licensed by a municipal or other governmental authority.”
“As often occurs, lawyers don’t always agree, and the city solicitor disagreed with that opinion,” Lerner told Global News last month.
London, Ont. council votes down Reptilia Zoo exemption request for exotic animals
Ahead of its February vote, city council received a slew of submissions from the public voicing opposition to the requested exemption.
Reptilia, which also operates facilities in Vaughan and Whitby, first sought to expand into London in 2018 but was rebuffed by the previous city council. Last year it emerged that the city had granted a building permit to the zoo for a facility at Westmount Mall, now Westmount Commons.
In November, the zoo approached the newly-elected council requesting an exemption to the animal control by-law, a request which was ultimately denied.
— with files from Andrew Graham, Marshall Healey, Jacquelyn LeBel
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