A popular Reptile expert dies from Pancreatic Cancer at the age of 54

Brian Barczyk, a well-known reptile expert with millions of followers on social media, has died at age 54 after being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in early 2023.

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Shortly before he passed away, the Michigan zoo owner and social media reptile specialist recorded a farewell video. On January 15, the staff of Barczyk’s interactive reptile zoo, the Reptarium in Utica, Michigan, shared the news of his passing via an Instagram statement.

“On behalf of the Barczyk family and our entire team at The Reptarium, it is with profound sorrow that we announce the passing of our beloved Brian Barczyk,” the statement read. “More than the guiding light of our organization, Brian’s fervent passion for reptiles and wildlife, along with his steadfast dedication to education, has touched innumerable hearts and minds globally.”The reptile expert garnered a great following across his social media platforms, with 5.2 million subscribers on YouTube, 7.2 million on TikTok, and 1.7 million followers on Instagram. Before that, he starred on Discovery Channel’s “Venom Hunters.”

Apart from establishing the Reptarium, Barczyk was also involved in the establishment of the Legasea Aquarium, which is scheduled to open in March 2024. With over 30,000 snakes, he was said to have the third-largest collection in the world. “Our deepest sympathies are with Brian’s family, his friends, and all those whose lives he has touched,” the statement continued. “We’ve lost an exceptional individual — a visionary, mentor, and friend. For those of us who had the privilege of working alongside him, Brian’s absence leaves an immeasurable void.” “As we navigate this difficult time, we find comfort in the memories and the lasting light of Brian’s work. He will be deeply missed but indeed, never forgotten,” the statement concluded.

On their website, The Reptarium also announced Barczyk’s passing and provided information on how to pay tribute to him and assist his family. On January 17, the zoo arranged a walk-through memorialising his life.

Brian had posted his farewell video before his death

On Jan. 5, Barczyk shared a farewell video to his fans, titled “This Is Goodbye…” as his condition was worsening and he was entering hospice care. “It’s been an amazing journey and one that has changed my life, he said in the video. “Each when of you have changed my life like you can’t believe.” A video of Barczyk taken roughly three months after his original cancer diagnosis is also included in the 16-minute piece. “It’s April 22, 2023. … I’m a few weeks into chemotherapy now,” he said. “I don’t know what the future is going to hold, but if for some reason you guys are watching this, that means that things didn’t turn out very well for me and I apologize. I fought as hard as I could.” “Honestly, I want to live so bad. You know, I have so much to live for and I love life,” he said. “This is a difficult journey, it’s not easy.”

Along with a goodbye, the video was also a thank you message for his supporters. “I just wanted to thank each and every one of you for supporting me and doing the things you’ve done over the years,” he said. “You’ve changed my life; you’ve changed the trajectory of what I was thinking I would ever be able to achieve in my life.”

Barczyk’s illness

According to local publication WXYZ, Barczyk received his initial diagnosis in February 2023. Before learning that he had stage 4 pancreatic cancer, he was first diagnosed with stage 2 disease. Since early tumours sometimes don’t show up on scans and pancreatic cancer typically doesn’t have symptoms in its early stages, it is frequently identified in its later stages.

By: Gursharan Kaur

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