The owners of the Maritime Reptile Zoo in Dartmouth are making an urgent appeal to the public for funding.

Mike Macdonald and Lindsay Giles opened the doors to the zoo in the Burnside Business Park last May, but is now in financial trouble.

The husband-and-wife team is having to pay out of their own pockets to pay the rent, heat and food bills for the more than 100 reptiles in their care.

"After we opened we had an incredible summer. We were booked solid. We did a number of exhibitions over the summer. The facility was packed almost every day so we had lots of visitors," said Macdonald.

"After around mid to late September, it was just nobody."


Maritime Reptile Zoo curator Mike MacDonald said business plummeted after the summer. (CBC)

Macdonald said the zoo is no longer charging admission and is instead asking for donations to keep the doors open.

"We are being faced with one of the most difficult challenges we have ever had to face. Do we close the zoo and find homes for all the animals or do we fight to save the zoo, the animals, and try to keep our dream alive?" They wrote in a statement on the zoo's website.

"The only obvious answer is to fight to keep it alive and make sure everyone in the Maritimes has the chance to experience and learn about these amazing animals."

The zoo began as an independent outreach program called Maritime Animal Adventures in 2010 before a major expansion into the Maritime Reptile Zoo last spring.

The Maritime Reptile Zoo was most recently in the news over the summer after a python was linked to the deaths of two boys in New Brunswick. Macdonald had handled the snake about six weeks before the fatal August incident and described it as a "temperamental" reptile that wasn't used to being around humans.

The African rock python that is believed to have killed Noah and Connor Barthe has since been put down.

The Maritime Reptile Zoo has also rescued a number of unlicensed exotic pets, including a 5.5-metre reticulated python seized in Yarmouth last summer.