BUHL, Idaho — Twin Falls may soon be home to its very own zoo thanks to a local reptile rescue organization's plans to take the next steps to showcase exotic animals in the Magic Valley.
Southern Idaho Reptile Rescue has existed in the Magic Valley since about 2019. It was created somewhat by accident when the director, Josh Dowding began sharing his love for reptiles and one of his neighbors noticed his animals and asked him if he would be willing to take in their iguana. The owners could no longer keep it and no other shelter or Fish and Game would take it either.
“I said sure and then it wasn't a few weeks after that someone else called and said we have a snake,” Dowding said.
Soon he discovered the large need for the care and shelter of exotic animals in his community, and Southern Idaho Reptile Rescue was created as a nonprofit.
“We have taken in and re-homed over 500 animals from all over the state,” said Dowding.
Their next step and goal is to establish their very own zoological center, and thanks to some community support, their dream may soon be a reality.
“It is just kind of a resource that we recognize is really needed in the area,” Dowding said. “Hopefully with the opening of a zoological center educating people on husbandry, and ethical keeping of animals in captivity, maybe they will recognize, maybe I shouldn't get an iguana because of the space it requires and all these things.”
Adopting the name of the Twin Falls Zoological Center, they are now currently looking at facilities for a zoo in Twin Falls and seeking sponsorships while raising community awareness.
“Be a place where the public can come in and experience these animals firsthand, do a lot of hands-on interactive things.”
If all things go well, Twin Falls could have a zoo by 2022 or earlier.