After rescuing, displaying and educating the public about reptiles for two years, The Maritime Reptile Zoo in Dartmouth is closing its doors.

Museum Curator Mike MacDonald says they have experienced financial difficulties, in part, due to the harsh winter, which they can’t recover from.

“The winter… has been extremely rough on us,” says MacDonald. “Just with all of the snow storms, nobody’s coming in. We don’t have parking in our parking spot for everybody, and the funds aren’t there to keep it open anymore.”

The zoo is the only exotic animal rescue facility in Atlantic Canada, and also serves as a shelter. Over the past two years, it has taken in almost 80 illegal animals, and with Thursday’s closure, that responsibility will fall solely on the Department of Natural Resources.

“It’s going to present a challenge for us when it comes to finding a place for these reptiles or illegal animals to go,” says NS Natural Resources Minister Zach Churchill.

A few of the animals will be transferred to Oaklawn Zoo in Nova Scotia’s Annapolis Valley, and the rest will be going to Ontario, a task DNR is helping with.

“Both in locating facilities for the animals,” says DNR Wildlife Director Bob Petrie, “and assisting with the cost of transportation.”

A few of the reptiles will stay with MacDonald, and be used for educational outreach programs.