By: Sheryl Sowell | Category: Recreation/Leisure | Issue: March 2010
Frank Gaddy has volunteered for Safari’s Sanctuary in Broken Arrow since its inception 15 years ago, and handles public and media relations. He is shown petting a “mob” of friendly kangaroos.
Safari’s Interactive Animal Sanctuary in Broken Arrow was founded in 1995 by Lori Ensign and her family. They began with a couple of big cats and eight acres of land, and have now grown to 250 assorted animals on 12 wooded acres. “Growing up in Tulsa, we always had an exotic pet, and I realized that a lot of other people did too,” says Lori. “But it’s really not a good idea. That’s why my family bought the property to care for the animals. We rescue all kinds of wildlife – big cats, wolves, bears, primates, hoof stock, birds, reptiles – and they all come from either private individuals who could not keep them or from zoos that overbreed.”
Safari’s Sanctuary is a truly one-of-a-kind experience. “Here you’ll get a fun, interactive animal experience like no other,” says Frank Gaddy, long-time friend of Lori’s and volunteer who handles public and media relations. “You can purchase treats to feed to the animals, including the big cats, as well as pet a lot of the animals. It’s unique because you actually get up close to the animals.”
As a nonprofit organization, all of the proceeds generated at Safari’s go directly toward caring for and feeding the animals. “Everyone who works here is a volunteer. No one gets paid; we all have other jobs. We do it for the love of the animals,” says Frank. Safari’s has a core group of about six full-time volunteers, in addition to about 30 part-time volunteers. Volunteers start at age 12, and they are always looking for more helping hands to do everything from feeding and cleaning up after the animals to building habitats and fences to giving personal tours and bookkeeping. Call (918) 357-LOVE to learn more.
Celebrating its 15th anniversary, Safari’s is considered by many to be one of Broken Arrow’s best kept secrets. “It’s amazing how many people still haven’t heard of us,” says Frank. “We are the perfect weekend destination for families, couples and groups of friends. There’s something here for everyone.”
The variety of animals living at the sanctuary is immense – they have lions, tigers, leopards, cougars, kangaroos, barnyard animals, wolves, birds, alligators, bears, monkeys, snakes and much more. But perhaps the most popular animal is Rocky the liger. A liger is fathered by a lion and mothered by a tiger. “A lot of people had never heard of ligers until “Napoleon Dynamite” came out,” laughs Frank. “Rocky has been with us for over 12 years, and now everyone who comes through wants to see him and feed him.”
In the past Frank worked in promotions for a professional wrestling organization, and says that many of the pro wrestlers he worked with have visited Safari’s and loved it. “We have hosted a lot of celebrities, including actress Kelly Preston. And when Motley Crue was in town, their dancers came and spent a whole night out here. Safari’s has really built a solid reputation across the country.”
Come find out what you’ve been missing! Admission is $6 for adults, $5 for ages 3 to 12, and children under 3 get in free. Safari’s is open on Saturdays and Sundays from noon to 5 p.m. year round. And don’t miss Safari’s St. Patrick’s Day celebration March 13 and 14 – wear green and you’ll get in for half price. Also mark your calendar to attend Safari’s annual Easter celebration. “We do a free Easter egg hunt and have candy, toys and prizes. The kids love it,” says Frank.
For more information or if you’re interested in donating or volunteering, Safari’s always welcomes your call.
Sheryl Sowell was born and raised in Tulsa, OK. She graduated from Will Rogers High School and received her Bachelor of Arts in English from Northeastern State University in 2007. She has worked for Value News as editor, writer and advertising copywriter since 2008. She enjoys meeting and interviewing people for Value News articles, learning about their backgrounds, and helping to promote their businesses and local events. In her free time, she enjoys reading, trying new recipes and crafts from Pinterest, attending concerts and sporting events, and spending time with family and friends. Sheryl lives in Tulsa with her fiancé Paul, their daughter Scarlett, and their two dogs, Gunner and Boo.