Exotic pet haven finds ‘forever’ homes

by Jeff Pederson
for The Beacon

LAKESHORE AVIAN AND REPTILE RESCUE AND SANCTUARY (LARRS) Founder and CEO Heather Pekrul moved the non-profit 501(c)(3) exotic bird and reptile rescue, adoption, education and retail organization to Sheboygan Falls in January 2020. – Submitted photo

SHEBOYGAN FALLS — Combining education, rescue and adoption services with boarding, grooming and retail products related to the care of exotic birds and reptiles, Lakeshore Avian and Reptile Rescue and Sanctuary (LARRS) appears to have set down deep and desirable roots in the city of Sheboygan Falls.

The 501(c)(3) non-profit LARRS organization launched in early 2015 aiming to fulfill a need in the community.

As a highly unique and keenly dedicated and committed organization in Sheboygan County, LARRS has carved out a distinct and valuable niche in the local area.

“The organization focuses on education for exotic bird and reptile owners and enthusiasts or anyone who is curious to learn more about these animals, as well as the care for exotic birds and reptile,” LARRS Founder and CEO Heather Pekrul said. “We strive to improve the lives of birds and reptiles by providing rescue and adoption services, sanctuary for those that cannot be adopted, and education about these wonderful creatures.

“LARRS offers educational programming, grooming and boarding services for exotic birds and reptiles,” she said. “LARRS also sells tried and true products to help safely care for exotic birds and reptiles, including cages and enclosures, bird toys and reptile decor, lighting, and tank features, as well as food for all your feathery and scaly pets. The organization takes in and adopts out a large variety of exotic birds and reptiles, including macaws, Amazons, cockatoos, African greys, conures, cockatiels, budgies, bearded dragons, iguanas, geckos, and a variety of tortoises and non-venomous snakes.”

Pekrul’s initial vision for LARRS has grown and expanded significantly over the past six years.

“I founded LARRS as a foster-based organization,” Pekrul said. “I fostered many of the animals in my home on the north side of Sheboygan, including the LARRS core group of educational animals, and worked with several other foster families throughout the East Central Lakeshore region of Wisconsin spanning from Sheboygan to Grafton.”

Acknowledging a need to find a larger space for its growing organization, LARRS relocated from Sheboygan to its current location at 500 Water St. in Sheboygan Falls last January.

As a non-profit organization, LARRS relies on the efforts of a mainly volunteer staff to fulfill its ongoing mission.

“LARRS currently has an all-volunteer staff, including myself, Todd Themar, chief operations officer, and a staff of six weekly and casual volunteers, who come to help with cleaning enclosures and spending time with the animals,” Pekrul said.

LARRS provides a welcoming home to several different species of exotic birds and reptiles, whether that home be a permanent sanctuary or temporary stay, while we search for their forever home, we love every animal we rescue as if they were our own,” she said. “LARRS takes in animals from all different circumstances such as when their owner passes away, needs to move away, or perhaps didn’t understand the commitment of owning exotic bird or reptile. We pride ourselves on being a no judgement organization when it comes to surrenders. LARRS has also received animals by working with local law enforcement to retrieve animals who have been abandoned or are part of hoarding situations or if their owner has become incarcerated.

“The adoptable animals who are searching for their forever homes are able to be matched with their forever home through the organization’s established adoption process,” Pekrul said. “Grooming and boarding services help to put bird and reptile owners’ minds at ease while they’re on vacation and save a trip to the vet for basic grooming needs like nail trims and beak trims.

“Our educational programming for the community is a way in which we are able to reach out and share our mission and our educational animals with all generations from schools, to nursing homes, Boy Scout and Girl Scout troops and programming at local libraries. People are able to learn and interact with several animals and learn about these amazing creatures,” she said.

For more information on LARRS, email,  call 920-694-1750 and visit

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