APOLLO BEACH — Pigs and snakes and coatimundis, oh my.
Around the World Animals opened Aug. 1 at 6140 U.S. 41 in the Winn-Dixie shopping plaza looking to cater more toward exotic mammals, saltwater fish and aquatic turtles.
"There is not another (Apollo Beach) pet store that sells what we sell," said Tara Costa, a Riverview resident who owns the store along with her husband, Robert. "We don't want to be another PetSmart."
You can bring your dog in for a grooming by experienced staffer Annette Cooper or get your cat examined by a veterinarian who visits monthly, but other types of animals are likely to steal the show: Shoppers might find a miniature pot-bellied pig for $400 or a black banded shark for $159.99.
Costa said lemurs are popular, but the skunks are gone for a while since exotic breeding season is usually in the spring and some exotic animals need to bond with an owner within its first 12 weeks of life, allowing for only a few weeks of potential sale time.
Costa, who has five children, currently bottle feeds a baby coatimundi around the clock, including 3 a.m. A coatimundi, a small mammal that belongs to the raccoon family, grows to be the size of a large housecat.
"I thought I was done with bottles," Costa joked.
Costa points out that late-night feedings are just one of the extra services she and Robert, who has a background in grooming and pet store operations, want to provide to their customers. Whether you seek a certain kind of saltwater fish or need to know the rules about obtaining a Class III, no-cost personal pet permit from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission in order to own an exotic pet, Around the World Animals wants to help.
"I'd like to think it's a place to come get information and also ask questions," Costa said. "If you learn about them and properly research them, they can be good pets."
Around the World Animals is open seven days a week: 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sundays. The Costas invite you to their Nov. 2 grand opening where they plan to give away some small critters, reduce prices and answer all your exotic questions. Call (813) 304-2523 for information or special requests.
Kid-friendly stores rise in Apollo Beach plaza
The Apollo Beach Winn-Dixie shopping plaza that includes Around the World Animals may blossom into a hub of kid-friendly businesses. After Around the World Animals opened last month, at least three adjacent businesses announced plans to open.
South Shore Rising Stars, a dance studio established in 2009, has a new location at 6128 U.S. 41. The curriculum includes ballet, acrobatics, jazz, lyrical, musical theater and hip-hop. Visit www.ssrisingstars.com.
Play Time has expanded into a larger location at 6124 U.S. 41. The children's indoor play center offers open play, art, music, yoga, birthday parties and a babysitting alternative for parents to drop off the kids so they can enjoy a night out. Visit www.playtimeapollobeach.com.
Wee Boutique will start accepting consignments at 6122 U.S. 41 on Oct. 1. The children's boutique also deals locally made garments, toys, uniforms, costumes, decor, furniture and custom embroidery. Search for Wee Boutique Resale on Facebook.
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