DELTA — All sorts of animals roam the West Desert near Delta, in Millard County. But for all the critters out there, James Dix just might have more.
For the past 18 months, James Dix has been looking for a new home for himself and more than 500 of his reptile friends.
The so-called "snake man" runs Reptile Rescue, an animal business rehabilitation and rescue center based out of West Valley City. Whenever a turtle, a snake — or sometimes even an alligator — finds its way into a residence, Dix removes the animal free of charge, and cares for it at his center.
But plans for the construction of the Mountain View Corridor forced Dix out of his location in West Valley, and Dix had an understandably hard time finding a new place for him and his over 500 animals to call home. His new location in Delta, however, seems to fit the bill just fine.
"It's a God-send," Dix said of his new Delta home. "It's a big building. It's actually going to be bigger than what we need, but for (the) future, we have plenty of room for growth."
His only neighbor, Losee True Value Hardware, doesn't seem to mind slithering snakes or pacing coyotes.
"I think this is going to be good for the whole community," said Gary Losee, owner of Losee True Value. "They are going to come in and do presentations at the schools, and anybody who wants to come visit, they're welcome to come. It's really kind of cool."
In addition to using the new facility to care for and rehabilitate animals, Dix also plans on turning it into a sort of mini-zoo, where people can come in and actually look at the animals.
"What looked like what was going to be a disaster, has turned out to be something really nice," Dix said.
It took 35 trips and two weeks to get all 500-plus animals to Delta.
Dix hopes to open his reptile park this spring, and plans on a few months of work ahead to get everything going. He plans to continue rescuing reptiles while maintaining the zoo.