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Ed Chiles

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Everything posted by Ed Chiles

  1. We need a reunion... it's been way too long! Gary, Leonard, Donnie, Dave, Jake, Ken have all checked in. Remember Dave Marino, AKA ' Hollywood" courtesy of Lion 2. He is just across the bridge from me in St Pete. We need to find Winks and Wolf and Ken and Patty Stevie and John King,and so many more. Holly crap... do you all remember the time Butch sent us to bring the 26 foot python w belly rot back to the surgery center. I think that the most afraid I have ever been. Actually I think almost all of the most fearful times of my life were in the safari park. We gotta do a reunion.
  2. Ken, Where are you my dear lost friend. It's Ed Chiles
  3. Tommy Lear worked lions, don't remember if it was 1rst lion section or second.
  4. Jake! So glad you checked in. We need to reconnect. Have talked to Leonard. So much catching up to do. Couldnt believe that Charlie died. Would love to talk to Debbie. Get in touch. echiles@chilesgroup.com 941 713 5361

  5. He Donnnie, sent you an e-mail. Sorry it took me so long to see your request. Sounds like we are rounding up a few folks finally. We have to get together.

  6. 29 yrs, My e-mail is echiles@chilesgroup.com. My office # is 941 778 8700. I would like to talk to you at your convenience, to learn more about the site and find where the old pictures are ..I was just going through a great gallery that someone put up from 1974. It had the picture w one of my monkeys, Cockey, that I just commented on. I really appreciate what you have done with this site and the link to some of the greatest times of my life.
  7. The monkey in the middle is Cocky. He was the only Gilatta baboon we had in the section and he was my favorite monkey. He would groom you and I would grrom him in turn. Grooming is what monkeys do when the go meticulously through each others coats and pick our nits, which they then eat. I will never forget Cockey.
  8. I believe the top picture is the monkey jungle. I think it was the only section that had sheet metal on top of the cyclone fence. That is definitely Brian Vidor in the picture with Butch Dring. Brian was the half brother of Warner Leroy, the parks creator. He lived in a trailer on the park property right near our HQ.
  9. I have some old films I will put up as well, if I can figure out how to do it. Perhaps 29 yrs can assist.
  10. The bears were incredible digger's weren't they Gary? I remember them burrying the cyclone fence down a couple of feet and then a couple of more and a couple of more. Seems like it was 6 or 8 feet before they finally solved the problem.
  11. I think we had 14 giraffe and I know we had 140 baboon's.
  12. Rhino adventure. Wasn't that when we strung all the burlap and created a corridor to get him back in? Butch was a heck of a man alright. Fearless but never reckless, and he knew more about animlas than anyone I ever saw or heard of. He was incredibly cool under pressure, and there were many times when the pressure was as high as it gets. I don't recall anyone ever being seriously hurt. That was a great testament to Butch Dring's leadership.
  13. And the gates would break all the time in the first year. There was a small pin about a 1/16th of an inch in diameter and maybe 2 inches long and it would snap. The park engineer was from England our Scotland. He was a nice guy and he would always be up there trying to fix the gate. I don't remeber a cat getting in the loch either but it sure could have happened, but there was never a time when cars were in and both gates were open. So if a cat got in, he couldnt get out. But cat's did occassionally jump the 8 foot perimiter fence and get in the safe area before the next fence that was 10 feet.
  14. Thanks 29 yrs, great to find this site and reconnect. Please guide me to pictures from the first 2 years and any info on the wardens. I would love to get reconnected with them. Thanks for the picture too. I have a great story about the day 5 big males tried to put me into the pond there.
  15. Stevie, who was a local N.J. guy, as I remember, worked the Bengal's right? And Leonard, from Canada worked the Siberians. I need to find Leonard and ask him a question if anyone knows his where abouts. Is Butch still living? Does anyone now where Charlie and Debbie are now? Winks was Lion 18 in Sheep and Goats and I was Lion 19 in the Monkey Jungle. I also worked relief in the cat sections. Ken was in charge of the bird section too right? I am trying to remember who headed up the African plains, there were two wardens in that section as I recall. We were the first park to ever attempt to release Leopards into an open concept. Rick stayed in that fenced in area for like 6 weeks , as I recall under the netting, sitting in his truck all day long in the heat of the summer, getting the cats acclimated. It was a job that would have driven anyone else crazy. It was hard enough to work the cat sections in the summer when they would sleep through the heat of the day and bore you to tears and then go crazy when the weather changed, God I loved it when they did that. You couldn't keep up with them. I will never forget the truck in the cat section that had the door that wouldn't close and you strapped it shut w a black bungee strap from the shifter to the door handle. That door just about got me ate up one day by a big male lion. We let the Leopards out for two or three days and pulled the plug, way too dangerous. They would get so flat you couldn't see them in the grass, but the stopping point was when two of them got underneath cars and tried to ride out. One of them got pretty serious burns. Leopards where a whole different deal, so cunning and way smart. They looked at you different. But we were the first and probably the only ones to ever do it, for two or three days anyway.
  16. Yeah, they did on a regular basis.
  17. Just found this site. So glad I did. I was the first warden in the monkey jungle, I didn't realize that the monkeys were no longer free roaming. That's a shame. I got the job the 2nd or third day that the park was open. The warden for the baboon section had trumped up his experience and when the park opened the baboon's ripped a couple of hundred vinyl roofs the first two days. When I got the job I enlisted the warden from the sheep and goat section which was right before the monkey jungle. Winks had a great arm, he pitched in high school. There was never much going on in his section and mine was one of the more hectic ones in the park, especially on changes in weather. We would race around the section chasing monkeys off cars. At first it was pretty frightening, some of the males were very large and very fierce. But soon we learned who was who, we had 140 monkeys when we opened, there were probably about 10 that you had to watch out for. I remember one named Makumba who really didn't like me. Like I said, Winks had a great arm, pretty quickly we were able to get them rock trained. You could stand sideways and look at them like a pitcher waving off signals from the mound and they would jump off, if that didn’t work you would start your windup, lol. We quickly progressed to where we would walk the section when there were problems. We carried the sawed off shotguns, which I think were Remington 801's, if I recall correctly, but we rarely had them out on foot, unless something really crazy was going on. We would use the white birch sticks that would be around when the monkeys tore up trees. There was lots of white birch and tons of vegetation when we opened, they were very straight and they made a nice club for protection. We got really comfortable, walking around, talking to the monkeys, waving traffic on, our section was really popular and the park was super busy. People would stop and the traffic would start backing up... we were the last section, so it would create a cascading effect, which was a problem, especially with the double gates ,that operated like a loch, that were required at the beginning and ends of the predator sections, that ended on the other side of the sheep and goat section, one section up. The whole safari park would sound like a bee hive. All of the wardens would be on their loud hailers... " all traffic must be moving, please keep your vehicles moving, all three lanes of traffic must be moving folks". and we would get out and wave them on. As long as they were moving the monkeys generally would not get on the cars. There were lots of times that you would walk up to a car to move a monkey off and someone would be feeding them through a cracked window. When you came up to the wrong monkey in that situation they would drop their top jaw down exposing large fangs and all the hair on their back and neck would stand up and their eyes would bulge and they would lunge at you and scream. You would have to go back and sit in your truck for a few minutes after that. They loved to get in the back of pickups. I will never forget the day that the guy comes through w a bunch of eggs and produce etc in the bed of his truck. I will never understand how he got all the way to my section without someone warning him. I look over at the gate and all the sudden there were 30 monkeys in the back of this pickup and more running toward it and onions and potatoes and eggs were flying everywhere. Winks and I kept the ripped vinyl to a bare minimum, but the park still put a bypass road in the next year. Warner would always stop at the entrance to the section just outside the gate and wait for me to escort him through, he had these great pimped our Cadillac’s with tons of thick vinyl and the little lanterns on it etc and the straps on the trunk. He was so child like, always full of enthusiasm, " Hiiiii Ed" Hi Warner, and then he would roar through the section, the monkeys couldn't have gotten on his car if they tried. The monkeys loved the reflectors around the tops of the Winnebago’s too. They would take off the orange covers and then pull out the lighbulbs and eat the thin glass, I kid you not. Our gate man stationed at the exit kept a big box of the covers, from previous encounters, and they would meekly offer them up to offended parties as the exited our section on their way to the theme park. We had the time of our lives , Winks and I and all the other warden's too. When the monkeys would get out they would call us from the theme park. I had one monkey that loved to escape and the he would go up and sit on top of the Giant Tee Pee and the people would go buy the top, on one of the roller coasters, and there was that monkey sitting there. I would take my truck and go over there and assure everyone that it would be all right. lol, there was nothing I could do, the monkeys came back when they were good and ready. But they always came back. They are very social animals and as long as the mothers and babies and there bud's were in the section they would come back before too long. They also like to go up to the second fence in the tiger section that was just one section away, on the other end of Wink's sheep and goat section. The tiger sections had a double line of fencing that was about 10 feet apart, wide enough to get a truck in. The first fence was 8 ft and the second fence was 10. We had cats jump the 8 ft fence but never the 10. When they went over the 8 ft fence you could run a truck in one end and flush them back into the section on the other end. Lion 17 was Canadian named Leonard, these were Siberian Tigers, beautiful animals. Leonard was a pretty particular guy. He always kept his truck real nice and he ran a great section, and was usually in a good humor, except when one of my monkey's was sitting on top of the 10 foot fence screaming at his tigers and making them try to jump the fence. Like I said they always came back. But then there was the day when the bus grazed the uprights at the entrance gate to the section. We had 10 feet of cyclone fencing around our perimeter, and then 8 feet of sheet metal. When you closed the gates it was all flush. After the bus hit the gate we jacked it up and worked on it as best we could. I had Butch and Charlie come look at it and we even went as far as putting grease on the seam in case they tried to get out. I will never forget driving in the next morning. The first thing we did every morning was drive through the section and drive the perimeters to check on the monkeys and the fences. When I drove in that day there were hardly any monkeys around. The further I got the more concerned I was. As I came up on the entrance gate that had been hit I saw lots of piles of monkey dung and finger prints all over the seam. At the same time my radio lit up, " come in Lion 19, I’ve got moneys in the American section, come in Lion 19, I've got monkeys in the African section, come in Lion 19, I've got monkeys in the rhino and elephant section. There was 115 monkeys out! and that's a problem! Because a large number of Mom's and babies are along for the ride and they might just decide to leave the park, as there was no sheet metal anywhere out forbidding their movement and that might just decide to head toward town and establish residency at the farmers market. The corporate higher up's were definitely a bit nervous. What a great day that was! More later
  18. Hey Donnie and Gary, Ed Chiles checking in. So glad I found this site, such incredible memories. Where is everybody these days? I'm in Florida on the west coast. Beautiful island named Anna Maria. Have three great beachfront restaurants and spend time fly fishing in Montana. Ed
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