By Carol Ryczek
Laramie Boomerang Via Wyoming News Exchange 

Interstate 80 crash sends 63 animals to local shelter


May 18, 2023

Exotic creatures find care in Laramie

LARAMIE - The Laramie Animal Shelter has become something of an ark.

The shelter unexpectedly found itself caring for 63 exotic pets following a rollover accident on Interstate 80 on May 12.

Although the original ark is said to have held many species,the animals temporarily cared for are mostly reptiles. The shelter is keeping them safe with the food, water and warmth they need to survive.

Animal Control Officer Teresa Bingham said the animals are exotic pets, including constrictor snakes, various lizards, bearded dragons, geckos, chameleons and tortoises.

Also in the mix were three hedgehogs.

All of the animals are legal to own. They were on their way to an expo center for a trade show, Bingham said.

The animals are in the care of the shelter until some of the people involved in the accident are able to claim them, she said.She anticipated that they would be on their way by Friday.

"The animals all had individual transport carriers and cages, that sort of stuff, and during the rollover some of those had been damaged," Bingham said."So deputies on scene improvised and got as many contained as possible, got anybody that escaped out of their containers and brought them here. We've just accommodated accordingly."

The shelter is housing most of the reptiles in a storage room. Heat lamps, spray water bottles are readily available.The staff also moves them into a heated glass enclosure for feeding and daily exercise.

Bingham said the five-person staff at the shelter has cared for lizards in the past, and they understood how to care for the new arrivals. They have also handled hedgehogs.

"We did get some information from one of the associates, the business owners, that had these guys, on specific care of the chameleons," Bingham said."Because chameleons are rainforesty, they need a lot of moisture; some of these guys need nice open air. They gave us ideas on food and proper caging, that kind of stuff, to make sure they continue to do well."

Food includes crickets, worms and pinky mice for the snakes. Officers have been able to purchase food from the Windy City Pet Store.

The city of Laramie is currently footing the bill for the animals, but Bingham said the owners will reimburse the city through impound fees.

Bingham called the members of the menagerie "all unique and cool in different ways. Like the chameleons, they're very interactive, they're easy to handle. They're brightly colored. The tegus (a large lizard) looks like something prehistoric, so they are fun in their uniqueness."

The hardest animals to handle are the anoles, she said, calling them "grumpy little guys." Anoles are a small green lizard native to the U.S.

Bingham said that though the shelter staff have handled exotic species before, this group of animals is unusually large. The shelter is set up to handle the dogs, cats and bunnies that are their most common visitors.

"We've got potentially eight spaces for 'others,' so 63 is a whole lot," she said.

This story was published on May 19, 2023.


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