WATCH | Brian Braitsch and Kylie Reynolds started rescuing reptiles eight years ago never thinking that their backyard would someday turn into a full-fledged exotic animal sanctuary. Today they have more than 100 rare species from all over the world living on their property.
It started with reptiles. Then someone called with some birds, then a skunk, then a fox. It's kind of crazy the stories that we've gotten in.
When word got around the Orlando area that the couple from St. Cloud was rescuing exotics, the phone calls started coming. All kinds of species with similar circumstances were in dire need of help.
They started a non-profit and called it Amazing Animals Inc.
Over the last eight years they've transformed their 2.5 acre property and backyard into a suitable living space for more than 100 rare and exotic animals. That's a lot of custom built enclosures that Brian had to make.
Amazing Animals Inc. is currently home to a blind barred owl, a Patagonian Cavy, 2 Geoffroy's cats, a red shouldered hawk, a marbled fox, 2 striped skunks, an American alligator, a dozen snakes, a bobcat, a two-toed sloth and 3 adorable kinkajous (just to name a few).
"It's good for people to have a place to turn to, especially for exotics. A lot of people don't know what to do. So we're glad to be there for them to find a proper home. Instead of who knows where they might end up once people realize that they might of had a little bit more then they can handle," said Kylie.
She's referring to the reason for 80% of the phone calls they get calls these days. People buy exotic pets online and are so overwhelmed that they are desperate to get rid of them once they get them and realize what's involved.
This adorable skunk was an ex-pet and owner surrender.
People see animals that are really cute and fluffy and automatically think they like to be snuggled on and would make a good pet.
Unfortunately, this is the kind of senario Kylie sees when it comes to exotic pet purchases on the internet. When people receive the animals they quickly come to find out that the care involved isn't conducive for their lifestyles.
This Patagonian Cavy was also an owner surrender.
Someone bought a fox. It ended up at Amazing Animals shortly there after.
"I kind of blame the internet for people thinking that foxes make a great pet because they can have their really cute moments. But neither one of our foxes like to be messed with too much," Kylie admitted.
This kinkajou was found on a woman's porch in Orlando, FL.
Animal control arrived to her home and didn't even know what they were looking at. "They had to google it," Kylie said. No one ever came forward to report their missing kinkajou so Kylie suspects someone let it go after buying it online.
When animals aren't from here we shouldn't introduce them here. It can really throw off the balance of our ecosystem.
It's not uncommon for people to release the animals they buy. According to Kylie, exotic reptiles are found misplaced in the wild all the time. "People just think since Florida's nice and warm - I don't really want this snake anymore, it can live outside."
Kylie's biggest piece of advice before buying an exotic is to do your research beforehand. "Really do your research. Know what their diet is, any proper set ups they might need, how long they're going to live. All that stuff is really important to look into before you get something. A lot of these habitats that we build are expensive. It's not cheap to own animals. Vet care, especially for exotics, it's usually a little more money," Kylie says.
All valid things to consider before buying a pet that's not a dog or a cat.
Amazing Animals Inc. also started a breeding program for some endangered, threatened and at risk animals from around the world. They recently acquired two Geoffroy's Cats from South America.
"The Geoffroy's cats I got as a breeding pair to help keep the population going in the United States because in South America they are hunted and face habitat loss. They are a great animal ambassador for us because most people have never heard of them, let alone seen one," Kylie said.
Conservation and education are Brian and Kylie's main focus, other than making sure they provide a great life to the animals that are under their care. They take some of the mobile, travel friendly animals to schools, nursing homes, birthday parties and day cares.
They travel throughout Florida spreading their passion for conservation.
They also invite the public to their property for private educational tours.
Kids love the tours.
It's been a lot of fun, It's a lot of work. It's a full time job now to care for of all these guys.
The money from the private tours, travel shows and donations has enabled the couple to build more habitats and take in more animals.