Brian Barczyk, reptile expert and YouTuber, dies of pancreatic cancer

Barczyk amassed a large following by creating videos that captured his enthusiasm for reptiles and other wildlife. (Credit: Jay Tomsky, The Reptarium)

Brian Barczyk, a successful YouTuber and prominent wildlife and reptile enthusiast, has died. He was 54 years old. 

Barczyk passed away Sunday at his home in Michigan, following a battle with stage 4 inoperable pancreatic cancer, a spokesperson with The Reptarium – a reptile zoo that Barczyk founded  – confirmed to FOX Television Stations.

"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 Reptarium said in a statement. "Our deepest sympathies are with Brian's family, his friends, and all those whose lives he has touched. 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." 

They continued, "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." 


Barczyk gained recognition through his daily vlog, his wildlife documentary "Brian In The Wild" and his role in the Discovery Channel’s TV series "Venom Hunters." (Credit: Jay Tomsky, The Reptarium)

Brian Barczk becomes successful wildlife vlogger

Barczyk gained widespread recognition through his daily vlog channel on YouTube, his wildlife documentary "Brian In The Wild" and his role in the Discovery Channel’s TV series "Venom Hunters."

Together with his wife Lori, they founded The Reptarium, an interactive reptile zoo located in Utica, Michigan. The zoo is known for its hands-on experiences with reptiles and a variety of other animals. 


Barczk featured with reptile. (Credit: Jay Tomsky, The Reptarium)

Barczyk was also working on LegaSea, a 30,000-square-foot expansion across from The Reptarium. This interactive zoo aims to immerse visitors in an educational experience, allowing guests, in Brian’s words, "to keep their hands wet from the moment they entered until they leave." The grand opening of LegaSea is set to open in March.

"Seeing the immense amount of support at a time that is so difficult for all of us has been so comforting," Jay Tingle, the Head Of Education at The Reptarium and the upcoming LegaSea Aquarium, said on Instagram. "We are so grateful to hear all the stories of how Brian changed the lives of so many. Times are definitely going to be different for us going forth from here but we will continue to make him proud everyday." 

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At the time of his death, Barczyk’s following on YouTube had grown to more than 5 million subscribers, while his TikTok account had more than 7 million followers. 

In place of flowers, the family is asking those interested in showing support to honor Barczyk's legacy by supporting The Reptarium.

This story was reported from Los Angeles.