08/07/2013 11:44 EDT

Reptile Ocean Urban Zoo Targeted By Online Petition To Shut It Down

The urban zoo in Campbellton, New Brunswick that owned a python that killed two young boys was the subject of a 2012 online petition to shut it down, according to The Petition Site.

The petition, whose claims could not immediately be verified by The Huffington Post Canada, was started by an "unsatisfied customer" who claimed the pet store kept dead and sick animals in cages next to healthy ones. The petition also said management kept the store at a "disgusting" level of humidity, and was unconcerned about the "puke and diarrhea all over the place" caused by a sick dog.

A worker even "giggled" when told about a tumour growing on a hamster's head, said the petition author.

Other commenters questioned the claims, saying the petition came from a "little girl" from Campbellton who was bitter about a snake she bought who died because she didn't care for it.

"Reptile Ocean is clean, well maintained, and the employees work as hard as possible to keep the animals cared for", said commenter "Mr. johnny wishbone."

The petition, which has since been closed, only garnered 185 of its goal of 1,000 signatures.

Although the truth of the claims is unknown, a statement from the province of New Brunswick said the store had no permit to keep the African rock python thought to have strangled the boys and the Department of Natural Resources didn't know it was being kept in the building.

In an interview with Global News, Campbellton resident Francine Bernard said Reptile Ocean should never have been allowed in the town.

Bry Loyst, a reptile expert who is assisting police in the Ocean Reptile case, told the Toronto Sun the attack was "an accident waiting to happen."

Loyst also said police told him the python had escaped its enclosure in the owner's apartment before, but an RCMP spokeswoman said she hadn't heard that.

The pet store shut down its Facebook page Monday after being slammed by commenters who said, among other things, that the owner "should be dumped in a jail with other criminals."

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