LEWISTON — Drew Desjardins has a great idea for downtown Lewiston and the raw materials to make it happen — all he needs is a place and maybe some investors.

By the raw materials, Desjardins — who goes by the name Mr. Drew to animal-fanciers around L-A — means pets such as lizards, crabs, birds and rabbits.

His idea is to create a permanent home for all of them, plus a few other science-related artifacts he’s collected over the years. He’d call it “Little Curiosities Children’s Museum of Natural Science” and invite everyone from the community to visit, especially children.

“There is nothing in this area like that,” he said. “We have Portland, Bangor Augusta, Rockland, all a distance from here. All of them are basically the same — creative play, or imaginative play.”

Desjardins will be bringing members of his menagerie to Lewiston’s Memorial Armory, Central Avenue, at 1 p.m. Saturday. Admission is $5 for adults, $3 for children and the show benefits Lewiston Senior Citizens programs and activities.

“I’ve seen how kids are, doing these shows,” he said. “The crowds come in. Adults are fascinated as well. So, we can do something a little different than the other childrens’ museums are doing.”

A former pet store owner, Desjardins has cultivated a reputation for dealing with exotic animals — not wild animals, but the kind of exotic pets people think they want to bring home. It can include squawking macaw parrots, boa constrictors, turtles and tortoises, mice, rabbits, lizards and insects.

Some come to him injured and he does his best to rehabilitate them — like the boa that had been set on fire.

“What he did, though, was crawl under the porch and set that on fire,” he said. “So, there was karma.”

The snake is healthier, and so is Kobe the tortoise. When Kobe first showed up, he had a bone disease that had left his shell soft and cracked. Proper nutrition, warmth and plenty of care helped the animal heal and his shell to harden.

“If it’s sick, neglected, abused, unwanted, we take them home,” he said. “Then, we help them find new homes.”

Soon, he began taking his menagerie out for shows, birthday parties and fundraising events.

“Right now, I travel all over Maine doing the shows and I’ve been doing that for quite a few years,” he said.

Long-term, he’d like to figure out a way to bring the people to his animals.

“The original thought was to rent a small space to host birthday parties,” he said. “But then, what would we do with the space Monday through Fridays? Most birthday parties are on the weekends. So we thought we could run special programs on Tuesday nights or something. And the idea kept growing and growing and a friend said, ‘Oh, it’s like a children’s museum.’ And I realized, that was it.”

He’s considered several places, but hasn’t been able to swing it. One such location was a empty Main Street storefront; another was on Lisbon Street.

“Imagine this being a part of the Artwalk,” he said. “We could have the kids come in and do art and invite everyone in.”

He’s ready, he said, and figures he could open this summer if he finds the right spot.

“But you can’t rush things,” he said. “That would be the downfall. I don’t want to go full burn only to find out that I’ve burned myself. I don’t mind learning from my mistakes. I just don’t want to learn too expensively.”

For now, his home is the animals’ home. Almost every room has some sort of pen, cage or enclosure.

“I’m kind of looking forward to getting my house back and giving them a place of their own,” Desjardins said. “No matter what, it’s going to happen.”

[email protected]


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.

filed under: