By Bejay Browne
A SNAKE and reptile expert says he has hit a brick wall with plans to re-open a reptile park in Paphos and says opening a museum is not possible either without considerable investment from supporters.
Hans-Jorg Wiedl, who is better known as Snake George, had been hoping to garner EU funding to establish a new location for his Paphos-based reptile park after he was forced to close a couple of years ago. Failing that, he had planned to open a snake and reptile museum at a now defunct taverna close to Ayios Georgios in Peyia.
“The owner is a very good friend of mine and although it’s my dream to re-open my park, at least a museum would be something. It’s important to show people all about snakes and reptiles and educate them,” he said. Snake George said the museum would have held numerous exhibitions, shown educational films and had many pictures of all sorts of creatures as well as skeletons, on display.
“People need to see what snakes and reptiles are all about, maybe then they will lose some of the fear of them. I would also keep one or two whip snakes and blunt nosed vipers at the museum so people can see what they look like; after all they are so important to Cyprus.”
But he says this is not possible without an injection of cash.
Snake George, a keen environmentalist, is known for rediscovering the Cyprus grass snake, which was believed to have been extinct for the last 40 years. He also proved that the blunt nose viper lays eggs and doesn’t give birth to live young as had previously been thought.
“Times are very difficult for everyone now, so many people are facing economic hardship. I don’t feel that it’s a good time or quite right to ask people for money, everyone is scared and it’s so difficult to find money to fund anything.”
So far, he says his attempts to find shareholders have proved fruitless.
Snake George said closing the initial snake and Reptile Park had been a very difficult and emotional experience. The park in Ayios Georgios in Paphos opened in 1996.
The snake and reptile expert says he has faced an uphill struggle since the closure of his park. Various suggested locations for the proposed new park hit problems at the initial stages, with many locals opposing the facility, saying they didn’t want it on their doorstep.
There were around 150 snakes at the park, which had to be released back into the wild.
He said: “I don’t think that it will be possible to start either a museum or a park the way things are in Cyprus at present and this fills me with great sadness. But even though I don’t have a base right now, I am still here to help remove unwanted snakes and take them to a safe area. I would rather people contacted me than destroyed them.”
Snake George 99 987685