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Lizards and snakes and scorpions oh my!

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The grand opening of Jungles Above, Oceans Below in Grover Beach has been a long time coming, but then, all good things take time. The Hayes family including a mom, a dad, and two of their sons bought the store in 2005 when it was only Oceans Below. When the Hayes began moving the contents of their shop to their current location, they realized they'd need to put in some serious work, so they rebuilt everything from the bottom up the shelves, the tanks and pumps, even the animal stock. Commitment to their original vision for the store and strong family support are what owner Joyce Hayes said made it all come together. Today, you can visit the specialty pet shop in all its glory.

ALL IN THE PHYLUM :  Owners of the new-and-improved specialty pet shop Jungles Above, Oceans Below want to show you the softer side of some misunderstood creatures. - PHOTO BY KYLIE MENDONCA
  • PHOTO BY KYLIE MENDONCA
  • ALL IN THE PHYLUM : Owners of the new-and-improved specialty pet shop Jungles Above, Oceans Below want to show you the softer side of some misunderstood creatures.

# The store aims to represent equal parts education and eye candy. The showroom features a 360-degree mural of jungle and underwater life with real-life exotics in huge aquariums and terrariums throughout the shop. A two-foot black pacu a close relative of the piranha lumbers through the waters of a tank close to the shop's doors, across from a giant horned chameleon and a mated pair of iguanas that look more like a pair of little Godzillas.

As for education, the late, great Steve Irwin serves as an inspiration for the Hayes.

"People are naturally afraid of what they don't know," Joyce explained, "but we just feel like we're sharing this planet with all kinds of creatures, and if you get to know them, then you don't have to be scared of them."

To help foster good relations between people and all kinds of creepy crawlies, Jungles Above, Oceans Below has opened an ever-expanding education center. It includes a large screen, high definition TV that usually plays educational videos (and sometimes fun stuff, like Finding Nemo). There's also a library on animals that the shop carries, from fish to water dragons. The books are available for browsing or buying. Many of the enclosures also feature information, including how big the animals could get, what their native habitat is like, and how to care for them. These tanks also boast pictures that deliver auditory explanations at the touch of a button.

The staff members have been caring for their own pets since they were kids, and can help in selecting the right pets for shoppers, considering age and experience. They can also help with set-up and maintenance of both salt and fresh water tanks. They even make house calls.

Stop by for good advice, or just to browse their huge selection of exotic animals Tuesday through Sunday at 1520 W. Grand Ave. in Grover Beach. Shop hours are between 11 a.m. and 7 p.m. To learn more, call 489-3474.

Kylie Mendonca compiled this week's Strokes and Plugs. Send your business news to rmiller@newtimesslo.com.

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