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Brian Barczyk, popular YouTube reptile expert, dies at 54

Barczyk announced in his final video on Jan. 5 that he was entering hospice care.
Brian Barczyk, owner of the Reptarium, holds a capybara, at his business in Utica, Mich., on June 23, 2023.
Brian Barczyk, owner of the Reptarium, holds a capybara, at his business in Utica, Mich., on June 23, 2023.Ryan Garza / USA Today Network

Brian Barczyk, the YouTube herpetologist loved by over 5 million subscribers, died Sunday. He was 54.

The cause was Stage 4 inoperable pancreatic cancer, a representative for The Reptarium, Barczyk's reptile zoo, confirmed to NBC News. Barczyk had initially shared his diagnosis with his following in a March 2023 video.

The Reptarium also shared the news on Barczyk's social media pages.

Barczyk had documented some of his cancer journey on his YouTube channel. He posted a final video on Jan. 5 announcing that he was entering hospice care.

In the video, he said he always wanted to "create experiences and opportunities for people to love animals."

"I pray that you guys will continue to watch the vlog, continue to follow along, because nothing is going to change," Barczyk said in the video. "Our message is the same. The only difference is that you're not going to see me. But trust me, I'm ready, guys. It was a tough year. It was so painful."

Barczyk was known for posting educational videos about various reptiles, including snakes and alligators. He was also featured in the Discovery show "Venom Hunters."

Barczyk founded The Reptarium, a Michigan-based interactive reptile zoo, in 2018. He started work on a new aquarium called LegaSea, which is still being built.

"We are so grateful to hear all the stories of how Brian changed the lives of so many," Jay Tingle, head of education at The Reptarium and the upcoming LegaSea Aquarium, said in an email. "Times are definitely going to be different for us going forth from here but we will continue to make him proud everyday."

Barczyk is survived by his wife, Lori, and children, Noah and Jade. Barczyk's son, Noah, has been helming the channel since Barczyk entered hospice.

"Nobody’s going to replace him, and even if you tried, you can’t," Noah Barczyk said in an email. "But we can be his conduit to keep his message alive. I promise our whole team will make you proud Dad."

Fans have shared an outpouring of support and condolences on Barczyk’s social media pages.

"It truly is a blessing to have so many people behind us in these times," Jay Tomsky, Barczyk’s best friend and creator director at The Reptarium and LegaSea Aquarium, said in an email.