Updated: 03/17/2014 4:19 PM KSTP.com By: Jason Davis
It was an impossible dream that they made come true.
Jamie and Melissa Pastika decided that what southern Minnesota needed was a reptile zoo.
They both gave up promising careers at other zoos and exhibitions and sank their life savings into opening the first part of their vision in a disused warehouse in Owatonna.
They did it all themselves from collecting the hundreds of snakes, turtles, tortoises, frogs, lizards, and even a 12-foot crocodile named "Big Al" to building the aquariums and pens that fill the warehouse.
Today, thanks to Jamie and Melissa, thousands of schoolchildren get their first experience to see and even touch creatures they have only read about in books.
As part of every tour the Pastika family, which now includes three daughters, help visitors interact with the animals and even put on a special presentation that includes the opportunity pet an alligator and a fifteen foot long python.
The Reptile and Amphibian Discovery Zoo is just off Interstate 35 at the Owatonna exit and is open year round.
They can be reached at 888 472-3966.