Our History - Over 40 Years of Innovation
Zoo Med Laboratories has been on the cutting edge of reptile husbandry and innovation for going on 40 years. In 1993 Zoo Med developed the first UVB lamp for reptiles which changed the way all Zoo’s, herpetologist and hobbyist keep reptiles in captivity. Our lamps are used by all Zoo’s and hobbyists the world over and we estimate our UVB lamps have saved hundreds of thousands of reptiles in captivity from an early demise due to metallic bone syndrome. Zoo Med currently has over 30 patents and manufactures over 50% of its 1200 SKU product line at company headquarters in San Luis Obispo, California. Zoo Med also has an extensive reptile breeding program and we currently house 490 turtles, 76 tortoises, 125 lizards, and 12 amphibians. Since 2009 we have successfully hatched over 1,500 of the above animals (46 species; many of them endangered). Zoo Med supports 10 conservation organizations, and regularly donates to over 100+ aquarium, reptile, and avian societies. Currently Zoo Med is on the waiting list for the Tesla PowerWall so we can (with the combined use of solar panels) go off the grid and generate our own power.
1977 - 19 year old Gary Bagnall and college friend Mark Lemke start a reptile company out of a one car garage. Located in Costa Mesa, California, the company is called “In Cold Blood”.
1978 - Gary teams up with accomplished Elaphe breeder Lloyd Lemke and the name is changed to “Orange County Zoological”.
1979 - Gary starts California Zoological Supply (”Cal Zoo”) and travels to Honduras, Egypt, Sierra Leone, Ghana, Nigeria, and Western Samoa in search of reptiles. Cal Zoo was the first company in the U.S. to bring in Uromastyx aegyptius, Pacific island boas and the original 4 Albino Columbian Red-Tailed Boas. Today over 50% of the reptiles and amphibians sold from Cal Zoo are captive raised from private breeders in the U.S. Cal Zoo is now owned by Tyrone Dillon.
1984 - Zoo Med open’s its doors selling but one item – ”ReptiVite” – a reptile vitamin developed by a chemist and zookeeper to help a local zoo combat calcium deficiencies they were encountering in their turtle collection.
1993 - Zoo Med’s crowning achievement with the development and production of the first UVB reptile lamp on the market. This lamp along with heat and a proper diet allows herp breeders to maintain more fragile species (such as chameleons,etc.) in captivity, plus prevent or reverse metabolic bone disease in all species of lizards, turtles and tortoises. Zoo Med’s UVB lamp range is the #1 choice with Zoos, Vets and professional reptile breeders. We estimate that our contribution to the development of UVB lighting for reptiles has saved hundreds of thousands of reptiles from an early death in captivity.
1993 CANNED FOODS - Zoo Med introduces the first “canned” (retorted) reptile foods with novel ingredients such as Opuntia cactus.
1993 REPTIBARK® - Zoo Med introduces its first wood substrate for terrariums. The company develops a method of “triple cleansing” the Reptibark® to eliminate dust and unwanted particles. For the safety and well-being of the animals, Zoo Med will never produce a substrate containing walnut shells or aromatic woods (such as pine, cedar or eucalyptus).
1994 BASKING & HEAT LAMPS - Zoo Med introduces the Repti Basking Spot Lamp and Repti Infrared Spot Lamp. Both made in Europe, the basking spot uses a patented double reflector design and the infrared lamp features true red glass (not painted).
1995 ALL NATURAL IGUANA FOOD - Zoo Med becomes the first (and only) company to produce “all natural” reptile foods using no artificial preservatives, colors or flavors. Zoo Med formulates foods based on what the animals eat in the wild – far more nutritious than just colored corn pellets!
1996 MITE OFF - Zoo Med introduces “Mite Off” which is made from non-toxic, biodegradable, electronically-charged stabilized colloids. Completely non-toxic, "Mite Off" is even safe to use on hatchling snakes.Zoo Med represents that this product qualifies for exemption from registration under FIFRA section 25(b) as outlined in title 40CFR section 152.25
1997 REPTISAFE® WATER CONDITIONER - Zoo Med develops the first reptile water conditioner that instantly removes chlorine, chloramines and ammonia. ReptiSafe® also aids in re-hydrating animals by providing essential electrolytes.
1999 CAN O's - Zoo Med introduces the first line of “cooked in the can insects” called Can O’Worms, Can O’Crickets, Can O’ Pillars, Can O’ Grasshoppers, Can O’ Snails and the new Can O’ Shrimp. Cooking insects in the can softens the exoskeleton and makes them easier to digest.
2002 REPTI HALOGEN - Zoo Med introduces the first halogen lamp with a modified burner tube specifically designed for reptile application. Halogen technology increases burn life and the crisp bright white light makes your animal's colors appear richer.
2003 Was a big year for Zoo Med with the introduction of 3 exclusive patented new products:
HABBA MIST® - Programmable misting unit for terrariums, bird cages, aviaries or indoor gardens. Portable for use indoors or outdoors, it runs on batteries or the included AC adapter. The Habba Mist® has 4 programmable spray interval settings and 4 spray duration settings. It's great for all high humidity loving species.
TURTLE DOCK® - The first “Turtle Dock” (i.e; basking site) that has a unique self leveling feature that automatically adjusts to all water levels. The Turtle Dock® is a “must have” product for aquatic turtle keepers.
BUGNAPPER® - Automatic insect catcher makes it virtually effortless to capture live insects for your pet herps. The Bugnapper® catches flying insects like moths, beetles, gnats, flies, etc. and is designed with an adjustable bug collection cup for collecting different size bugs.
2003 VITA-SAND® - Zoo Med wasn’t the first company to produce a calcium substrate, but the company's approach to ensure their substrate was (1.) Natural - with no artificial colors or color sealers. For the health and well-being of the animals, Zoo Med will never use paint to color a substrate that could be accidentally ingested. Instead, a natural food grade iron oxide coloring agent fortified with added vitamins is used. And (2.) Safe - Vita-Sand® is an ultra-fine grade substrate to decrease the chance of impaction. Zoo Med provides Vita-Sand® in 6 natural colors.
2005-2006 FLOATING TURTLE LOG® & FLOATING AQUARIUM LOG (Patent Pending) - Zoo Med’s Floating Turtle Log and Aquarium Logs are the first product on the market designed for interactive play with your pet in mind. This naturalistic log floats just at the water's surface providing a refuge to sleep, breed or hide in. The top surface also provides a basking site for turtles.
2007 ZOO MED TURNS 30! - Zoo Med thanks the thousands of customers who use their products on a daily basis. "We are a company full of hobbyist, biologists and engineers who enjoy making the best reptile products on earth!"
2016 BREEDING PROGRAM MILESTONE - Since 2009, Zoo Med has successfully hatched over 1,500 animals (46 species; many of them endangered)!
Zoo Med Labs eagerly anticipates the future of Herpetoculture!