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Cape Fear Serpentarium Reopens After Repairs

By Christina Haley O'Neal, posted Sep 20, 2017
The Cape Fear Serpentarium was closed for a week but is now open following repairs. The business is now operating on its regular business hours. (Photo by Cece Nunn)
Visitors to the Cape Fear Serpentarium in downtown Wilmington may have noticed a closed sign last week, but on Wednesday, the serpentarium reopened after repairs to the building were complete. 

Deena Beard, wife of Cape Fear Serpentarium Director William Beard, said the serpentarium had been closed for a week to fix water damage. Deena Beard greeted several visitors to the two-story snake exhibit at 20 Orange St. on Wednesday in a newly remodeled lobby.

The serpentarium features more than 80 different snakes, including some of the deadliest venomous snakes in the world, as well as other reptiles, such as crocodiles and large lizards.

Along with repairs, the inside of the serpentarium (below) had been freshened up. The serpentarium will now continue to operate under its normal business hours, Deena Beard said.

William Beard has been a part of the business for nearly two years. He was brought on as curator by longtime friend Dean Ripa, the Cape Fear Serpentarium founder and owner who was shot and killed May 13 at the age of 60.

Dean Ripa's wife, Regina Ripa, is currently in the New Hanover County Jail awaiting trial, charged with first-degree murder in her husband's death. The case is still pending in New Hanover County court.

William and Deena Beard said the serpentarium is operating under Cape Fear Serpentarium LLC, but they would not comment further on the status of the business and property out of respect for the Ripa family until the pending trial is over. Cape Fear Serpentarium LLC was organized in June, according to corporation documents filed with the state of North Carolina.

An expert herpetologist, Dean Ripa founded the 10,000-square-foot serpentarium in 2001, and today the facility features more than 50 displays.

Deena Beard thanked the Wilmington community on Wednesday saying, "We’re just so grateful for all the support from the community and local businesses.”

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