Escondido reptile museum about to go cold…forever

Snake handling at EcoVivarium Nov. 28, 2022/EcoVivarium

Reptiles may like to heat up, but in the case of Escondido’s EcoVivarium living museum, life may be getting way too cold for comfort for the snakes and such due to a mounting electric bill.

It’s a constant challenge keeping these cold-blooded suckers warm and kicking. Operators of the 13-year-old private non-profit 10,200-square foot museum at 641 E. Pennsylvania Ave. issued an “emergency plea” for funding this week due to an SDG&E bill that reached $44,000 in past due with a 15-day shutoff notice to boot.

The nearly 300 creatures, mostly reptiles, “are tropical and desert animals,” EcoVivarium founder Susan Nowicke said to KGTV-10 News Wednesday, Jan. 18. “They do need heat to function, and without it, they don’t.”

Nowicke said she was suffering, “Stress, pain, worry…The fate of the museum is at risk.”

The rather significant bill was due to the museum shutting down for 18 months during the Pandemic, according to Nowicke, who said no tours meant no money for the ever-growing beast of an electric bill. ““We’ve been making payments, but it’s snowballing now,” she said.

Nowicke said SDG&E had put her on a six-month payment plan. However, increasing utility rates had sky-rocketed the latest bill, by about $12,000 for the first month’s payment.

When asked if she make that $12,000 payment, Nowicke answered, “Right at the moment, no.”

The museum has had to be creative, according to Nowicke. Heat sources were being rotated. For example, when one heat-generating bulb for a snake was turned off, its enclosure soaks up heat from the enclosure below.

Later, the bulb in the snake’s enclosure is turned off, while the other bulb is turned on. Nowicke has also started a Gofundme campaign, and is hoping to find large donors.

Nowiak told KGTV she would try to find a way, to keep the lights and heat on. “Each animals that’s here has come from a terrible situation, abuse of neglect,” she said. “We can’t leave animals behind …We’ll do whatever it.”

A spokesperson with SDG&E issued the following statement:

“Since the start of the pandemic, SDG&E has been communicating and working continuously with customers who struggle to pay their past due bills, including small businesses like EcoVivarium. That ongoing dialogue resulted in a structured payment plan to help this particular business. As a result, it’s not currently at risk of disconnection. We remain committed to finding solutions for customers who are still struggling to recover financially from the pandemic’s economic impacts.”

EcoVivarium calls itself one of the largest reptile, amphibian, and arthropod rescues in the United States.  Each year over 100 animals in need come through its doors.

“Some become Education Ambassadors, others are adopted into private homes, and others become Sanctuary Animals here at the museum. EcoVivarium is home to several sanctuary animals.  Sanctuary Animals have nowhere else to go if we can’t take them. We need your continued support to care for the animals of EcoVivarium.”

Be the first to comment on "Escondido reptile museum about to go cold…forever"

Leave a comment