The Sanctuary

We are located in beautiful
Vero Beach, Fl.

We are a non-profit reptile and small animal rescue that is licensed, regulated, and inspected by the
Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

turtle enclosure inside turtle enclosure One of the Tortiose Pens Large Enclosure
Meet Joe
Joe holding Snapping Turtle

"One thing that has always drawn me to reptiles is that even after 40 years, I still learn something new about these incredible creatures almost daily."

The Newt Biologist

I was fortunate to have grown up in beautiful rural New England with hundreds of acreage in our backyard. As a child, I spent most of my free time playing in that environment looking for snakes, turtles, salamanders and anything else I could find. In the winter, my family would attract birds with feeders and from a very young age I'd document the different species we'd have visit. So for as far back as I can remember, I've always had an innate love and fascination with this planet's creatures and all things nature. At around 7 or 8 years old, my first animal I was responsible for fully taking care of myself was a 10 gallon tank of newts my parents had let me pick out at the local pet shop. I wound up spending countless hours watching, interacting and caring for these little creatures and was completely fascinated by them. Even before I knew what "animal enrichment" was, I was looking for ways to interact with them and enhance their lives in this small 10 gallon tank they were housed in. Back then, Amazon was still just a river in Brazil and a "newt slide" wasn't something manufactured you could purchase, so of course I'd build one out of an old cedar shingle I wrapped in tinfoil. And in doing so, I'd never hear the end of it from my older siblings, who'd love to make fun. I soon realized newts aren't really into slides and I was able to find a few books on the subject of newts & salamanders, so I began researching. As I learned so many strange and interesting facts about these creatures, it led me even deeper into the amazing world of herpetology and sparked a love and fascination I've carried with me my whole life. My comical older brother Kevin would soon dub me the, "newt biologist" and with time, my love for those crazy little critters and so many others would continue to grow.

Iron Eyes Cody

Red Tailed Boa

The next substantial animal I was in charge of caring for was at about 14 years old, when my father purchased a 10 foot Colombian red tail boa constrictor that we called Iron Eyes Cody, after the famous actor. He and my mother surprised me with it one day, subsequently, after he had unintentionally drove my favorite cat off and it never returned. I was very sad to have lost said cat, but my father had also purchased the huge and amazing custom made display enclosure that the pet shop had been housing their snakes in. Living with and caring for that magnificent snake in such a beautiful and naturalistic environment really made an impression on me back then that drove me to appreciate these incredible animals even more and the importance of giving them the proper space they deserve.


Tortellini the Tortoise

Unfortunately, we had to sell the whole setup years later when our family moved to Florida. But as time moved on, one way or another, it seemed I always had animals in my life. Even when I moved out on my own into my first apartment, I had a 55 gallon fish tank with some impressively large fish. I took the time to build a custom stand for that tank that I still have to this day. Then not long into my relationship with Shari, my wife to be, one of the first commitments we made to each other was a couple of fun loving ferrets we acquired. Fast forward a few years, add children to the mix, our first home together with a fantastic undeveloped adjacent lot, the family dog, cats, koi ponds and then eventually adopting a 25lb African spur thighed Sulcata tortoise named Tortellini from the local animal shelter that needed a home. We gave that tortoise the most fantastic home we could afford. Another was soon added when the local animal control asked us to take on a much larger Sulcata named Dozer.


Joe-Rassic Logo

And so it began. We continued to work at giving our adopted animals the best living conditions we possibly could and some people began to notice. Word of mouth is a powerful thing in a small town and soon people were coming from places both local and far off asking if we would be willing to take on varying critters that, for one reason or another, they themselves could no longer care for. My big brother Kevin would come over and look at the garage full of lizards & snakes, the 16X16 foot reptarium in the side yard (built by myself, my father in law and my two sons), plus the giant tortoises in the adjacent lot! He'd laugh at the situation and say, "Look at you! You're like Joe-rassic over here!".

The Park

As time went on, we realized we had outgrown our happy little first home and so we set our sights on owning some land, a dream of both Shari and I and a goal we had set from the very beginning of our relationship together. In 2019 we were fortunate enough to achieve our goal and acquired a beautiful four and a half acre property that we now call home and of course, "Joe-Rassic Park"! With one of our main goals being education of the youth, this fun name made for a perfect theme for our reptile sanctuary. For, in my experience, most all kids both young and old love dinosaurs!

In Conclusion

Now, if you made it all the way through this little synopsis of my life and my love of animals, congrats! I invite you to check out the rest of our website to see what all this has led to for me. I'm beyond thrilled to be able to provide as much as we can for these fantastic and often misunderstood creatures and I'm committed, with the help of my amazing wife, Shari, to continue our work and mission as long as we're able, and hopefully make a bit of a difference in this damaged world we live in. I'm so happy to be able to have developed this opportunity for so many animals that needed the help and will continue to. It really is my passion and love that keeps me going and I thank you for your interest and taking the time to get involved in some way or just stop by to enjoy the amazing critters!

Best regards and stay wild,

Two tortoises eating watermelon
Some of the Family
Tortoise Image
Rhino Iguana
Lizard Image
Tortoise Image