Reptile enthusiast Brian Barcyzk has died from pancreatic cancer — just over a week after sharing a heartbreaking farewell video to his more than 5 million followers on YouTube.
He was 54.
“We’ve lost an exceptional individual — a visionary, mentor, and friend,” Barcyzk’s Michigan reptile business, The Reptarium, said on its website Monday.
“For those of us who had the privilege of working alongside him, Brian’s absence leaves an immeasurable void,” the announcement said.
“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.”
Barcyzk’s “mission went far beyond a simple fascination with reptiles; he was a true advocate for sparking curiosity, respect, and understanding towards all facets of nature,” the company said in a longer tribute.
“Brian’s enthusiasm wasn’t just contagious; it was transformative, turning fear into fascination and wonder,” the post continued.
“In mourning Brian, we are also celebrating an extraordinary life. His invaluable contributions to herpetology, the lives he profoundly enriched, and the lasting positive impact he made on the world, will resonate for generations to come.”
The website also included a parting quote from the beloved reptile expert: “Be kind to someone and I will see you in the next one.”
News of Barcyzk’s death comes just 9 days after he uploaded a 16-minute clip titled “This is Goodbye” to his popular YouTube channel, in which he shared with his 5.2 million followers that he was losing his agonizing year-long battle with stage 4 pancreatic cancer.
“It’s been an amazing journey, one that has changed my life like you can’t believe,” Barcyzk said while seemingly struggling to breathe.
“This last year has been difficult with my cancer, with the ups and downs of treatment,” he said. “We really thought we could beat this.”
Just a few days earlier, the 54-year-old naturalist had entered hospice care after suffering several strokes and vision loss.
“I’m ready, guys. It was a tough year,” he said through tears. “It was so painful, the pain was incredible, the sickness was incredible, the treatment was incredible, everything about it was so bad.”
But despite his health struggles, Brazyck, who thanked his wife for being there for him in his final days, called himself “the lucky one.”
“I’m going to be able to look down on the legacy, I’m going to be able to look down on my family, and everyone who I love. I’m the lucky one,” he told fans.
The announcement of Brazyck’s death has sparked an outpouring of support from thousands of followers on Facebook.
“What a tremendous loss,” wrote Amanda Kilgore. “I am glad his pain has ended and that we all have the memories and videos to look back on. He gets to see everything come together from the other side now. Lori and family, I am so incredibly sorry for your loss.”