The Valdez Star - Serving Prince William Sound and Copper River Basin

By Lee Revis
Editor, Valdez Star 

Exotic pet habitat expansion underway at animal shelter

Goal is to teach people about habits and needs of unusual animals


Valdez Star photo

The indoor koi pond in the expanding section of the Exotic Pet Education Room at the Valdez Animal Shelter receives attention from Wyatt Duncan, a community service officer.

Did you know parrots and turtles can live to be over sixty years old? So can koi and goldfish. Oh, and those cute little creatures can grow to be over three feet long. Iguanas can grow to over six feet in length.

Spreading this information – and more – is the goal of the expansion of the Exotic Pet Education Room at the Valdez Animal Shelter, which has been quietly working the past several months to improve its habitats for resident exotic pets.

It is hoped that the expanded habitats will help visitors make smart choices when it comes to acquiring pets.

The lesson is already hitting home. Fairbanks, the shelter's resident iguana, outgrew the special habitat that was built for her only a few years back. Her new habitat, which is in the first stages of construction, will be eight feet long. The shelter's resident koi outgrew their original aquarium with the first year of operation and has been expanded from 10 gallons, to 55 gallons, to 75 gallons and the setup is now at 210 gallons. But guess what? That will not be large enough for the eventual size of the two koi and two goldfish now swimming in its vast waters. The new indoor pond that is nearing completion will hold over 400 gallons of water.

Valdez Star photo

These koi and goldfish that live at the Exotic Pet Education Room at the Valdez Animal Shelter are rapidly outgrowing their 210 gallon aquarium.

Rich Long, the animal control officer in Valdez, said it is his mission to be able to say that animals brought to the shelter are not only properly housed during their stay at the shelter, but that they all leave in better health and condition than when the animals arrived.

Fundraising to pay for materials for the habitats has been ongoing. The shelter will play host to a bake and yard sale – rain or shine – this coming Saturday.

Ashlee Schaeffer is spearheading the sale and anyone with items to donate – baked goods or yard sale items – can drop them off at the shelter.

Donations of volunteer time – and of course cash – are also always welcome.

Long says his goal is to have the expansion project complete before the beginning of the new school year, which begins in mid-August.


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