Gator Farm celebrates its new reptile barn

Photo courtesy of the Alamosa County Chamber of Commerce Colorado Gator Farm staff, family members and community well-wishers celebrated the grand opening of the new reptile barn there with a ribbon cutting Friday morning. Owner Jay Young is shown in the middle holding a sign. The new barn replaces the previous reptile building that was destroyed in a horrific fire on April 18, 2023, killing more than 100 reptiles including numerous snakes, turtles, tortoises, caiman, and others.

Officially named the David Lindsey Reptile Center

MOSCA – Colorado Gator Farm owner Jay Young was smiling but also flooded with mixed emotions during a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the new reptile barn on Friday, May 24.

He was joined by approximately 20 family and friends, including Alamosa County Commissioner Lori Laske and former Senator Lewis Entz, during the ceremony. The new barn was officially named the David Lindsey Reptile Center.

“The new building will house mostly rescued reptiles, snakes, lizards, tortoises, and some parrots,” Young said. “This has been a lot of hard work and a long road, but life is going to throw things at you, it’s up to you how you handle it. All you can do is the best you can, with what you have got, and now we have a new barn.” 

The new barn replaces the structure that burned down in a devastating fire on April 18, 2023. More than 100 turtles, tortoises, lizards, and snakes died in the fire.

Young stated that it was heartbreaking to lose the building and all the animals that were in it, but so many people had also stepped up to help them. The Gator Farm regrouped and was open not long after the fire and began working on the new barn.

“It was a devastating loss. Some of the animals we had, we had for over 25 years,” Young said. “It’s hard to just pick up and go on. The outpouring of support from the public was so immense.”

Young stated it was not just the financial support that he appreciated; it was more about the love that was given to everyone at the farm during the loss.

“We must have been doing something right to get that much love and support. It was hard to pick up the pieces and go on, but here we are, and we are still doing it. The support from the community has been huge and we couldn't’ do it without them,” he said.

The new facility was dedicated to Dave Lindsey, a man who had worked diligently to help with the construction of the new barn, and became a close friend, “like family,” to Young.

According to Young, Lindsey was unfortunately diagnosed with cancer. He fought the cancer for almost two years but passed away the morning of the ribbon-cutting ceremony, according to Young.

“This is in honor of David. He just passed away this morning. I had hoped he would be here today to see this. He fought the good fight against cancer, but it was time for him to be at peace and not suffer anymore.”

Young smiled with tears running down his cheeks and said, “He was hoping to be here for the grand opening, too. He’s here with us in spirit. It’s been a long time coming. Excited about the ribbon cutting, but also wish he could have made it today.”