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Roosevelt the Sable Antelope/Happy Feeling

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Hello,

 

I worked in the Safari for a couple of summers in the early 1970's. This was before the lions were fenced in. Cars were allowed to drive through the area. In the plains area there was a dominant Sable Antelope we called Roosevelt. He was fearless. I sometimes worked the gate between the Plains area and the Lion area. To the right of the automobile loading zone there was just a chain link fence separating the two areas. I can remember times when a lion would get up against the fence roaring. Roosevelt didn't like that. He came charging the fence, ramming as hard as he could trying to get at the lion. Of course the lion was viciously flailing back at Roosevelt. That was quite a scene. The noise was incredible. I think the lion was fortunate Roosevelt didn't get through, he meant business. A Safari truck would come running to herd Roosevelt away from the fence. He then turned his attention to the truck, trying to ram it as it baited him. There were also times when Roosevelt would trap me in the guard stand. Prancing around the stand daring me to come out.

 

I suspect he became too much of a PITA and they shipped him out to another zoo. 

Does anyone know of him?

 

Also, is the Safari Director Butch Dring still in the area or did he retire and move away?

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Hi RSA-- Welcome to the forums!

 

That's a great story, and I wish we had answers.

 

Right now our info on the Safari is still limited, but I'm hoping more people like yourself who work or worked int he Safari join our group and can help us fill in the details.

 

I'm curious as to what happened to Keana the elephant. She was born when Tom Kean was elected governor, and I know they used to run a little piece on her to fill time on New Jersey Network. When we took the Safari VIP tour last year, we asked, but our guide had no idea what I was talking about.

 

I'm not sure what the status of Butch Dring is at this point, but I too was curious about him. His son Rich used to work in the park and knew one of my cousins. i'll have to ask her if she knows his whereabouts or knows someone who does.

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Very nice story. It's nice to see the animals today, but I think it would have been pretty interesting to see them back when the park opened and some of the animals were roaming more freely than they do now. It can be a little bit of a downer when the lions and such are just laying in the shade in the middle of a second enclosure because you don't get to really experience their grace and power. The Safari really is a park gem, and one I don't think enough people take advantage of when they are on park grounds.

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I was looking up Butch and found this discussion. I was there from the beginning until mid 1979. First as the supervisor of the petting zoo(Happy Feeling!!!) and caretaker of the 10 pythons there. After they closed the petting area and we sent the pythons away on a plane at Newark Airport, I moved over to the safari at different positions. I remember Roosevelt. I wondered if Judy the giraffe was still there? It all was very exciting and a Great Adventure.

 

 

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Welcome! I think we may have some questions for you about Happy Feeling...we have so little information on it. And, if you happen to have any photos, we'd love to have them in our gallery ;)

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I was looking up Butch and found this discussion. I was there from the beginning until mid 1979. First as the supervisor of the petting zoo(Happy Feeling!!!) and caretaker of the 10 pythons there. After they closed the petting area and we sent the pythons away on a plane at Newark Airport, I moved over to the safari at different positions. I remember Roosevelt. I wondered if Judy the giraffe was still there? It all was very exciting and a Great Adventure.

 

It's great to have you join us! In case you didn't see the page, there are a few photos of Happy Feeling! posted on our tour. Click HERE to see them.

 

As GAcoaster mentioned, we do have some questions that hopefully you can answer. If you don't mind, I'll start:

 

- What types of animals were featured in the petting area? Approximately how many?

- Did the area have special hours or did it remain open at night?

- We have pictures of kids feeding the animals- was animal food sold in the petting zoo?

- Were there any other type of display areas similar to the python enclosure in the petting zoo?

- Early park maps featured a pond in the petting zoo area. Was there really one in there?

- Did the Happy Feeling area ever have a sign marking its entrance? I've never seen one for either this area or the Antique Cars ride next to it.

 

Thanks for any information you can provide!

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We had approx. 75 deer (fallow and a few tame white tail), 50 goats ( about 10 were Camaroon), 2-3 macaws ( 2 scarlet, maybe 1 other), 6 llamas ( Jeb and Ellie were the spoiled bottle fed baby llamas that eventually had to be removed), 10 pythons ( 3 reticulated, Big Head, Monty (of course), and Abe, and 7 African Rock Pythons. Also about 30 chickens assorted ducks. I kept good records, including the reptiles feeding habits.

 

The pond was in the front so you could see it from outside and to the left of the entrance. It was about 35 - 40 ft. long and about 25 ft wide. In the middle there was an island with one or two trees, thats where the clipped macaws stayed in the warm weather, back to the holding area in the winter. Somebody didn't clip them properly and they eventually flew away.

 

The snake house was the only display. There was a small building that sold stuff to feed the animals, I think it was Rye Crisp or some other cracker. It got to be dangerous and too much food so I think it was cut out or limited.

 

I don't remember it open after dark, I know it wasn't lit well at all. I can't picture the sign but I'm sure there was one.

 

I must have some photos, it might take a while to find them.

 

I went to Tivoli Gardens in Copenhagen a couple months ago and saw the similarities and remembered that was the idea behind the original design of the park. Brought back memories.

 

Is there anyone in the Safari from the '70's?

 

 

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Thanks for the great detailed information! We'll be sure to use all those interesting stats in a future Happy Feeling Spotlight. For reference, photos of the Snake Pit and the shop that replaced it can be found by clicking HERE.

 

I always saw the pond on the map and sort of remember it on my way to the Alpen Blitz ride years ago (after Happy Feeling was removed). If I am not mistaken, it was roughly on the site of the former Spin Meister (Enterprise) ride.

 

If you could keep us in mind next time you look through your photos we would greatly appreciate it!

 

As for early Safari folks, "rsa" worked there in the 70s. If you get a chance post your ID in the Safari Alumni topic on the boards . We get plenty of visiting guests to the site and hopefully you'll be able to "Come Together" with some old friends! :)

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I remember the day before the park opened alot of us (Rangers/ Wardens) had to help move the animals to the petting zoo. Fun times. Gary

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OK, Harry I will be mailing the DVD to you tomorrow so you can post it on this site. It is grainy in some parts and does kinda jump alittle but you have to remember it was shot with a Super 8MM film camera and the film is about 35 yrs old. It is alittle long and you might want to edit it abit to fit if you need to. It has alot of the elephants and rhinos and ostriches of course . BUT I promise you will see the animals doing all kinds of things that one would only see if you watched them all day as I did. You will see the big male elephant RIP when he was about 3 or 4 and is easy to recognise as his right ear is torn and he has a short tail. The elephant that does alot of mounting of others was my favorite one , Bongo. The big rhino that chases the girls was Spooky Tooth. He has a large scar on his right hip. Another elephant that was unusal was Panya, she was a Forest Elephant and has very small round ears. The 4 largest elephants were Tanya, Targa, Lucy and Bertha. Another that I think is still there is Gloria. The Wardens and Gate Guards clown it up for the film and the shots of the ride area and the Great Arena are good. Dave McMillian is the Tiger Trainer in the video and I shot that footage in the spring of 1978 when I was in NYC with the Greatest Show on Earth, playing at MSG. More later. ENJOY!!!!!!!!! There are shots of the Happy Feeling petting zoo with the snake house of glass. Heck, even Roosevelt the Sable Antelope is in the film resting.

 

Edited by Gary Hill

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That is great news Gary! I am excited that it includes Roosevelt and the Snake Pit too! After talking about those things for quite some time it will be nice to finally see what they looked like.

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That is great news Gary! I am excited that it includes Roosevelt and the Snake Pit too! After talking about those things for quite some time it will be nice to finally see what they looked like.

 

 

Harry I mailed it to you today! I hope you will send it back to me when you are finished with it? I do regret that I wasn't able to do a voice over so I could ID the animals we talk about. I had a rough time getting my schedule with the other guys. I might try to do one in the future, if time works with us?

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Gary, I received the DVD this morning! WOW, what amazing movies!

 

I've already watched it twice and will work on getting it converted to files for the Forums and Galleries. We will need to get a couple of settings updated to accomodate the large movie files, but having so much film footage is a great problem to have! :)

 

A question about Happy Feeling- was that staffed by Safari employees or did it fall under the park's ride operations department. I know when the park had the Pet-a-Pet section it fell under the Safari department.

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Glad you received it Harry! Hope you enjoyed it and will have it up and running soon so everyone else can see it. The staff of the petting zoo was under supervision of Butch Dring, Director and Lion 1 of the Safari Park. I am the skinny one with the really bad floppy hat! The hat band was real Leopard skin but I never could find a good hat in NJ to replace it! I really didn't leave the park for the first year except to go to my apt and eat and sleep. I worked everyday for the first two years. Overtime got me in trouble but I would go in and not punch the time clock some days. I begged Butch to put me on salary and he was supposed to have a house on property for me and some of the other guys from Texas that quit in the beginning because we didn't have housing on site. Butch lived on site.

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I know Butch lived on property into the 1990's, but I'm not sure what happened...whether he retired and moved away or what exactly.

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THAT is a boo boo! It was supposed to have been deleted. It was a ranch in Orlando, Fl that I used to shoe horses at when I was still in Fl. Sorry, I forgot to tell ya about it. My Bad!

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What do ya think about the Great Arena events? That and the Elephants and Rhinos playing?

 

Those are some nice closeups of the Great Arena shows. We have footage of the tiger show but it was taken from up in the grandstands so it is not nearly as good as yours.

 

The animal shots were just incredible! It's easy to see what you meant about the wardens keeping the elephants off the road before there were fences. It was also interesting to see how the one rhino almost topples the other by lifting up his hind leg with his horn.

 

What I liked the most is the film really shows what the Safari looked like in 1974 with all the animals, trees, trucks, etc. The mounds of freshly excavated dirt throughout the Safari were really interesting too. Today those are all overgrown and covered with vegetation so you just assume that they were always there.

 

 

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The big pile of dirt and the rocks were hauled in at my request so the elephants had something other to do than tear up trees and dig holes. The Wardens in the bear sections were always putting rock around the fence so the bears couldn't dig out. Wolfe is the guy playing with the bear cubs.

 

 

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We're trying to get it uploaded now, but we've been running into some snags. Our webhost needs to change our upload limits on the backend which always takes some work.

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