Tealc, Zeus, Athena, Ninja, and Belle may sound like the list of characters you would meet at C2E2 this weekend. However, you will find them much closer to home. On any given day, Tealc (a 3-foot tortoise) roams the aisles of Curious Creatures LLC (or on warmer days, the sidewalks of Broadway) while Athena (a 10-foot python) rides wrapped around the owner’s shoulder. Home to many exotic pets, Curious Creatures LLC is a specialty reptile store based in Buena Park.
Andy and Alison Babbitt, Curious Creatures’ owners, are avid anime watchers and grew up watching cartoons. When they bought their first turtle and named him Casey Jones (from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles), a trend was born. Boasting names from the Ninja Turtles, to gods and goddesses, to flowers, each of the store animals are given a name within a theme. Currently, the leachie geckos create a tropical fruit salad with names like Mango and Kiwi. While these names hint at a sense of fun, they also show a deep rooted care that the owners have for each of the animals they own, breed, and sell.
A testament to their passion and care, Andy and Alison were gifted Tealc, a 3-foot tortoise) from his previous owners 3 years ago. The owners were getting older and were unable to continue to care for Tealc. Andy, who had always wanted a shop tortoise, agreed to provide a home for Tealc, who was gifted with free reign of the store. Tealc became popular with customers, getting several visits each day from children and reptile enthusiasts. He gained a following and has since had an Instagram hashtag devoted to his daily visits, mealtimes, and walks (see #tealcthetortoise).
While big box stores sell animals and move on to new customers, Andy and Alison ensure their customers know how to care for their newest pet and even provide Reptile Stimulation Services so owners can relate better with their lizards. Going the extra mile, Alison even does home visits to provide on-going care for several customers. Andy and Alison know that these pets are destined to become part of your family, after all Curious Creatures began as a joke while Andy and Alsion started collecting a small army of various reptiles. One pet turtle turned into several lizards and snakes and continued growing. As their family grew, so did their desire to create Curious Creatures.
Since 2104, Curious Creatures has become a local institution for finding unique pets, including lizards, turtles, snakes, and even tarantulas. They offer everything needed to build natural habitats, stuffed animals, lizard leashes (to keep your lizard safe while riding your shoulder), and even a selection of cat and dog food for those Buena Park pet owners who want to support local businesses.
Walking into Curious Creatures is like being welcomed into a tropical escape from Chicago’s wintery landscape. Andy and Alison are quick with greetings and smiles. On any given day, their three dogs will be napping in their bed behind the counter and their daughter will light the store up with her squeals and laughter. Whether you stop to take a picture with Tealc or find the newest member of your household, you will find fun, healthy, fascinating animals.