A chance meeting in January of this year on the “Lady Go Diver” charter led to Zookeeper being taken to the next level.
Described by The Science Channel as “one of the most aggressively invasive species on the planet,” lionfish have 18 venomous spines, no known predators and reproduce at an alarming rate. While generally not a threat to humans, they devour many native fish.
The only hope of controlling their numbers lies with humans.
Zookeeper, a lionfish containment unit, aids in that task.
After a lionfish is speared, the diver can place them safely in the container. Removal can be performed after the diver returns to the surface.
Zookeeper was invented by Allie Elhage of Sarasota. …
In 2011, he was in Curacao working on a project when a long time friend explained how local divers spear lionfish and place them in mesh bags to harvest them.
Elhage wasn’t even a certified scuba diver then, but he was proficient in interior graphics. He designed, created and patented the Zookeeper.
Since then, he’s become scuba certified, moved back to Sarasota. His Zookeeper is now the leading lionfish containment unit on the market today.
Fast forward 10 years and Elhage connected with Tim Robinson on the dive charter. Robinson is an avid recreational diver, a PADI dive instructor, and a Fort Lauderdale based entrepreneur.
He has a passion for diving that started when he was working as a firefighter in Broward County but left to pursue a business in the private sector. He’d been hunting lionfish and using a Zookeeper for years before he met Elhage.
Robinson now owns the company after the two got together to work out the details of the transaction.
Elhage admits his interior design business has been keeping him very busy and Zookeeper had taken a back seat. He’d been a “one-man shop” while Robinson has engaged several friends and family to help run the business.
“A better person couldn’t have bought zookeeper,” said Elhage. “Zookeeper had stalled on me and Tim will take it to the next level.”
Robinson says his entrepreneurial spirit will drive Zookeeper to make significant progress in “protecting the marine ecosystem.”
Once made in Sarasota and now made in Broward county, in Sunrise, Zookeeper will now be a Broward County operation. …
Robinson sees an opportunity to expand his business from one item to many and the plan is to eventually make over 100 products.
“One of the many goals of the Zookeeper team is to continue to support and promote the assault on lionfish, which are having a devastating effect on our marine ecosystem,” reads a news release. “The entire Zookeeper team also has a passion for the overall protection of our underwater environment.”
This is great news for the many divers who harvest lionfish on the east coast of Florida and around the world, but bad news if you’re a lionfish. And, as the tagline for the new company reads, “The future of lionfish ends with Zookeeper.”