August 05, 2016 - 1:34 PM
KELOWNA – The former operator of a controversial exotic animal exhibition in East Kelowna has pleaded guilty to illegally possessing wildlife.
John Douglas Illman, 64, was originally charged with eight counts relating to the improper housing of exotic animals, including alligators and caiman.
Plagued by financial issues, CrocTalk was forced to go to the public for help when they were unable to pay their bills. It eventually shut down entirely after the city refused to give Illman a business licence.
CrocTalk was unrecognized by Canada's Accredited Zoos and Aquariums, the federal agency responsible for certifying a facility as a zoo.
Kelowna bylaw officer Greg Wise confirmed last year the City of Kelowna refused to issue Croc Talk a business licence and were investigating because the facility was on land not zoned for an animal attraction.
Conservation Officer Barb Leslie said Illman had been prohibited from showing any of his controlled species — crocodiles, caimans, African wild cats and tortoises — but continued hosting guided tours until January 2015.
In Kelowna court today, Aug. 5, Illman pleaded guilty to one count of unlawful possession of live wildlife and three charges under the Wildlife act. The remaining four charges were stayed.
Charges were dropped against co-accused Brenda Mae Bruce.
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