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Welcome Past & Present Safari Team Members!

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I finally got ahold of Butch Dring by telephone and we had a fantastic visit! Talked about the good ole days when we started in Texas and through the following years..It was very special to share memories of the early days with the Man that sent me to Africa as a young man...I will forever be Grateful for him for his trust in me..God Bless you Butch!!

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I also have found Leonard DeNault on facebook and he should be joining this discussion soon I hope? He will have a treasure trove of info because he actually lived on the grounds during the construction of GA and the first few years it was open. He will be able to fill gaps and things that happened in his sections. He was the Siberian Tigers first Warden and Supervisior of the second half of the predator sections. Jake Collier was Supervisor over the first Predators areas...

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I meant to post on July 1, to celebrate GA's 38th year. I still remember the week of opening and it was fun getting everything to go smooth. The only real problems we had were so many cars and them overheating..had to carry water in jugs in my truck so when cars vaporlocked we pushed them off the road or pushed them back to the front gate..I was more mechanic than Warden, the animals were very well behaved..Ostriches did create alot of roadblocks and the gates entering and exiting the predator sections were breaking down alot..

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My name is Michele. I worked at the safari umpteen years ago. I started out working the gates; mostly I was at the Monkey Jungle/Camel,Sheep and Goat gate and I also worked the towers in the cat sections. I learned to change a flat, do a temp fix on a fan belt and take care of an over heat. Later on I was made a warden and was again with the monkeys and camels. Hands down, this was my favorite job and I still can't believe that I got paid to do something that I enjoyed so much.

 

One of my favorite memories is the time I was out of my truck cleaning up in the Monkey Jungle. My truck was missing a tiny vent window, but not big enough for anything to climb in...or so I thought. I looked up as I was cleaning and there was one of the monkeys sitting in a tree with my lunch bag! I had packed a great lunch with strawberries and Jarlsburg cheese. I got to sit there and watch that monkey eat those strawberries one at a time and I guess he didn't like cheese because he threw that to the ground!

 

Another fond memory is of the morning that I crashed my truck into a rock hidden in the tall grass at the side of the Monkey Jungle, smashing the bottom of the drivers door. That same day, the warden that relieved me for lunch...I think her name was Barbara, did exactly the same thing to that same truck! We both earned a 3 day suspension, jumped into her car and spent those 3 days at (I think it was) Island Beach State Park.

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Welcome to our site Michele!

 

I thought you were going to say the monkey was in the truck when you got back in it. I pictured the story turning ugly!

 

It is great to have you here! Love hearing stories about the park and its people.

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Michele, what years were you there? Was Butch Dring still Lion 1, or was Dr. Rives Lion 1 I had a rhino put a hole in my truck before the park even opened and had tires blown out by same rhino...Spookie Tooth. He had the scar on his right hip, main breeder back then..Was Ed Chiles or "Winks" still in Sheep and Goat and Monkey Jungle when you were there?

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GAAAA! For the life of me I can not remember when I was there. Butch was Lion 1 and Charlie Hull was Lion 2. John King, Birdman, Luke, and dear Chas Walton....I was so sorry to hear that he had passed away.

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On a sentimental note...Chas Walton was my sometimes fishing buddy. Any time we went he would make the most ridiculously overstuffed breakfast sandwiches. To this day when my husband and I go fishing, I make "Chas Walton" fishing sandwiches and as I wrap them up, I remember Chas

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Never knew Chas Walton, he came after I left in 76. I knew all the other guys and many more I remember..I was involved in GA from 72 because they bought all the animals from World of Animals in Mesquite, Tx where I worked. I sent 2 male asian's and a young female African to Ringling Bros Barnum and Bailey Circus and Rex Williams in California got a young male asian..Never could figure out why Butch didnt want the african female? She could have made the herd there at 30 Africans instead of the 29 I started with there. Not to mention I had been working Konti and she could have helped me train the young ones I brought over from Uganda..

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Not only 29 elephants but 16 rhinos too, to watch, feed and clean up after, day in and day out. But it was one heck of an experience that not very many people can comprehend.

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Not only 29 elephants but 16 rhinos too, to watch, feed and clean up after, day in and day out. But it was one heck of an experience that not very many people can comprehend.

Ain't that the truth Donald!!! I miss you Brother and sure glad this site is still up. Wish Ed Chiles and Leonard DeNault would chime in more with their stories...We all had them, those were Great Years starting Great Adventure!!

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This is your thread to introduce yourself and possibly re-connect with old friends!

 

Welcome to the forums smile.gif

 

This is Charles and Winnie, and we live all of twenty minutes from the park. Actually, I bike over there about once a week just for exercise. We have been going to the park starting 10 days after the safari opened in 1974 and watched it morph into different venues some good and some bad. The past few years have been the best to date and we are now into taking a third generation to see the animals and go on the "RIDES"! If I can figure out how to post a picture, we have an original DANGER warning tag that was handed out when the safari first opened. It really had a great deal of weight behind it since the bears, tigers, lions and baboons roamed free and came right up to the car.

 

We also take credit for suggesting that the safari begin private tours after I wrote to them one winter and asked if my wife could go over and feed a giraffe. A few weeks later we received a call from the fellow who created the safari and he invited us over for a private tour. We suggested that they try running private tours and the next season they initiated the program. There is much more to this story but this is the most important aspect of it.

 

Charles and Winnie B

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^Hello and welcome to GreatAdventureHistory!

 

That is so cool that your patronage of Great Adventure dates back to opening year! We hope that you will be sure to check out our site and the hundreds of forum topics here and share stories of seasons past!

 

We would love to see any photos or materials that you have from the Safari and Theme Parks. You can add them to our galleries (click HERE) or email them to us at feedback@greatadventurehistory.com and we would be happy to post and share them.

 

Once again, welcome! :)

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Just wanted to say hi to all my fellow safari brothers that are comenting on here. Wow, thought about you guys now and then over the years. Gary, Donny, Lenard D., Ed Childs, and did I hear Ken Moog joined in. I went down to GA this year with Charlies widow Deb, for old times sake. My good friend George (now the manager) who worked together with me in the later 70's and early 80's took us on the tour. I have to say the park looks good. Just a little update on some of the people that I know, Woofie Chandler is living in North Carolina, have not seen him in years but hes doing well. Dave Barnes is living in New egypt, not far from the park, having worked in the park the longest of all of us. Charlie Hull died of a heart attack labor day 2000. I still see Debbie Hull all the time. Butch I know retired and went to North Carolina and I have not seen him lately. I would be really interested if we could conjure up some kind of reunion in the next year or two. I would be great to see all the original crew from 74, (or whats left). I was trying to remember the guys that were in my sections in 74. Ron Morris was lion 8 for awhile, but I remember several people as Lion 8 the first year, because of that young pride being crazy most of the time. Who could forget Ed the retired drill sargent on gate 6 with overheated cars, cats on one side and bears on the other. He later worked in the plains, with Kenny Moog. In the back bears was Steve Marshall, who later went to the Siberians. Then came the Bengal tigers who Dave Barnes handled. Another insane section. Who can forget stalker. Thanks to Dave that tiger never managed to maul anyone, not that he didn't try a few times. In the brown bears was a guy whose father was a Jackson cop. I can't remeber, but I thing his first name was Rob.Then a guy named John Brunner was in there. The bird sancuary had a great guy whos name escapes me but I can still see his face. College kid,wore glasses. sorry that is all I can Give you on that one. I saw Paul Demetri once quite a few year ago. He showed up at Charlies house one day for a nice visit. Ron and Crystal Morris were living in Virginia the last I heard.

 

Well, I will try to remember more as I go, But there was a heck of alot of partying in those days so I'll see if I can clear some of the memory fog that exists from those days. I wish you all well and would love to have some kind of get together in the future. I'm sure the stories from those times will bring a smile to all our faces. Theres not too many people in the world that went thru what we did those first couple of years. (And Survived) Anybody remember the day it was so crowded in 74, backed up to the turnpike, and the amusement area could not park all the cars. total panic on their part. We had cars jammed in the predator To avoid a mob scene we opened the gates of safari, no charge, and pushed all these cars thru safari and back out on rt. 537 before they even realized what had happened. Of course they could not come back to complain due to the traffic outside the park. It was a true example of riot control. We had cars backed up in the predator sections for awhile till Butch took control and we started to push them in and out of the park before it became critical

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Jake, you ole snake you!! I visited the park on the what 30th reunion but it was a bust for the Safari guys!:(( I got treated pretty cool especially because I gave Dr Rives a DVD of the movies I shot...I have a book in process, and must admit I need all of y'all to help me remember names and dates and events at the park I didn't know about..I had heard y'all talk about Stalker, didn't ever leave Ele/Rhino to help play with y'all ..did rope a few elk in American section...park was differant ? Can't believe the tree loss. I pleaded with the guys from landscaping all the time...remember how small the lake in my section was compared to now?: We do need a get together at the Safari...in the next year or so..I rented a car but was freakin LOST tryin to come in the back way we went to Safari!! New hood grew up..and so sorry about Seaside Heights...that was my excape time from GA... later Bro. Jake!!! We are a small Band of Brothers who "were there'!:)

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hey Jake it is good to hear from you. i was wondering if any of the old crew would find this site and please keep it up with the stories, it really brings on a smile when i hear from and about the safari in the old days. by the way the bear guy that was a jackson cops son was Bob Barry. take care and keep in touch also get some of the old crew on this site if you can.

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Two questions for the Safari crew:

 

1. Did you guys have numbers on your pith helmets?

2. Does anyone recall a co-worker with the last name "Wilson"? Possibly "J.C.Wilson"?

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we wore hats not helmets, at least not in the first two years of the safari park. if you go thru pictures of the safari posted by the safari people you will see what they look like. j.c. wilson doesn't sound familiar to me but some of the others might know.

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I would like to welcome our newest member, Dave Barnes (Basser), who worked at the Safari for 15 years dating back to February 1974. I am sure he will have some great stories to discuss with Gary, Donald, and all the other veteran Safari folks here on our forums! We look forward to hearing them!

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to 29yrswithaGApass, i was wondering if you have a section that has safari members listed, not just wardens but gate guards and others that worked in the confines of the safari, it occured to me when dave barnes signed up that others could be members from the safari section but using screen names. i joined in my name just so past friends could find me easily, i'm pretty sure that's why gary joined in his name too. how about adding a safari members section if you don't already have one.

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I recieved an email from Dave Barnes today..hopefully he will chime in with memories...I did talk to him on Georges phone when I visited the park...lets see, we have on here..Donald Bale, Ed Chiles, Leonard DeNault,Jake Collier, Dave Barnes and me...didn't Ken Moog join at one time? It would be great to get any of the other Orginal Personal to be on here...:)

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Another name to bring up is Brian Vidor. He is Out in California and owns two resturaunts at Santa Monica airport.. I have not talked to him since 1977 when we opened a safari in Japan. I will see if I can contact him. I saw Patty Myers in north NJ back in the 80's or 90's. She was living in the same town where I worked. Have not seen her since. I'll try to come up with some more names if I can.

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