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Starting Your Own Zoo

Discussion in 'General Zoo Discussion' started by kbaker116, 2 Sep 2009.

  1. kbaker116

    kbaker116 Well-Known Member

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    Now their have been threads on Zoochat about your dream zoo and the animals that would be in it etc. But has anyone on Zoochat ever looked into starting their own actual zoo? It would take a lot of money to make it happen and of course a lot of time. I was just interested if anyone had maybe plans or looking into starting their own zoo in the future like myself.
     
  2. tigerboy618

    tigerboy618 Member

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    i am

    after taking a courase in zoology i hope to build a large urban zoo over 300 hundred acers
     
  3. James27

    James27 Well-Known Member

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    I think plenty of people dream of it, I'm just not sure as to weather anyone on here has seriously thought about doing it. You'd have to have a hell of a lot of zoo experience.
     
  4. kbaker116

    kbaker116 Well-Known Member

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    Yes a lot of experience would be needed. I am thinking you would either had to start off as private owner of a species of exotic and grow from their.
     
  5. CGSwans

    CGSwans Well-Known Member

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    Or be mature and sensible enough to recognise that you need to hire an experienced industry professional to act as zoo director, and be willing to accept their advice when they say that letting people pat the tigers for an extra fee is not a good business idea.

    If I ever had the capital I would do it - simply because I care little about the financial implications as long as I have fulfilling work and enough money coming into my personal account to live. I'd enjoy owning a zoo, but I wouldn't do it without being able to hire someone with an industry background to make the day-to-day decisions.

    I think, here in Australia, even to think about starting the long grind (and I mean 20-25 years to reach the standard of an Adelaide or Perth) towards having a relatively complete zoo, you'd want to start with at least $1m in personal capital and a willingness to borrow. $5m in starting capital lets you leapfrog to owning the larger carnivores, ungulates and primates pretty quickly.

    Of course, you'd need to balance a desire to have a large collection with a desire to have jaw-dropping exhibits. It'd be interesting to see how many of the people on this forum who condemn the sight of wire would change their minds when they were the ones paying the multi-million dollar contracts.
     
  6. Zoos Int

    Zoos Int Well-Known Member

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    building own zoo

    I have many years experience in building my own zoos .Yes it takes a lot of money as well a lot of expertise .You only get one go at doing it right with the local government as well authorities .You need to have other projects or past performance to show all concerned .Its very rewarding as well you have no one to answer to but yourself .The buck stops with you .I have found over the uears many people try to under mind me as well think i have just started a zoo coz it was a good idea at the time .It takes bucket loads of money ,as well a great wife or business partner to pick up the slack .Its 7 days and nights ,full on and no rest .Unless you have great staff who think like you and happy ..I am happy to share any knowledge or support anyone who sets up a zoo .The next is the marketing ,if you don't be careful you can spend 100s of thousands on stupid adverts that don't work . Word of mouth and net working do .I am not telling most of you any thing new .I can only tell you from my experiences..
    Tony Greenwoods
    Peel Zoo Pinjarra Mandurah Western Australia - Natures Education Centre /www.wombatawareness.com
     
  7. PAT

    PAT Well-Known Member

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    I think about how I would go about starting a zoo.

    Here in Australia I think one would start with a couple of big ungulate paddocks, some bird aviaries, a childrens farm and a great collection of natives. The ungulates could be an American paddock with bison and red deer, and Asian paddock with water buffalo, blackbuck and sambar deer and an African paddock with camels, ostrich and barbary sheep.

    Within the next 10 or so years some small mammal species would slowly be added, e.g. monkeys, meerkats, red pandas etc. The number of exotic reptiles would also increase slowly and after 10-15 years you could get boa constrictors etc. After 20 years and being part of ARAZPA the oppurtunites to hold large carnivores (lions, maned wolves), larger ungulates (giraffe, zebra, white rhino, przwalski's horse). And by now the zoo would be very large and could possibly aquire apes or seals.
     
  8. European Fauna

    European Fauna Well-Known Member

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    When any regular business fails it is a disaster for employees, suppliers, shareholders , management & in some cases distributors and customers.When a zoo fails it is all of that PLUS it may be the end of the road for many or all of its animals, difficult or impossible to relocate.Zoos have a spectacular failure rate, but we are mostly familiar with the successes.However there are countless photos to be found in ZOOCHAT from collections which no longer exist.So many new zoos fail to have any realistic business plan , or any perspective on how the zoo would carry on after their death.I mean , you can´t just say to your children "Look , I´m getting on , I want you to take over the family zoo".It´s quite comparable with the case of dog owners.Millions of people acquire dogs with the very best of intentions, but do not have the foresight to plan for the case where the dog may outlast them.Any dog charity will be able to give you hundreds or thousands of cases of much-loved pets who suddenly had nobody to look after them when the owners¨time came.I think there is a lot of that mentality among private zoo owners.A zoo is a team effort and needs a business plan and a certain structure which should help it weather through different classes of problems (death of owner / financial challenges etc etc).Collections should be regularly reassessed to determine dispositions of other zoos to acquire animals in case of contingency.Many private zoo owners, becoming elderly or encountering financial difficulties , have been shocked to find that even endangered animals are often impossible to offload.Let´s say you go bankrupt and among your stock you have a small group of lowland gorilllas.Great, but they may be incompatible wwith animals in other collections or have already over-represented bloodlines.Not so easy.And your elderly elephants may suffer so much from an effort to move them that it they would be finished.If you need to have a good think before becoming a dog owner , multiply it by 1,000 before starting a zoo.If you have everything thought-out, and still want to make a go, good luck to you and we will give you more than enough pointers at ZOOCHAT!
     
  9. kbaker116

    kbaker116 Well-Known Member

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    Thanks everyone for the great information especially European Fauna and Peel Zoo!
     
  10. EllieLouise

    EllieLouise New Member

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    Starting your own

    I have been thinking about it for years now. But i wouldnt want it to be like a normal zoo where the animals are in cages. I would want to purchase alot of land and set so much space for each animal and have it as their natural habitat would be. So that if needed the animals would be able to survive in the wild.

    Only problem is the funds. Would people be supportive?:confused:
     
  11. EvilKittie

    EvilKittie Well-Known Member

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    seems interesting but id save it for a few years for myself XD
     
  12. kbaker116

    kbaker116 Well-Known Member

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    Great idea but would your normal visitor wouldn't enjoy a zoo like this? There would be a lot of walking and you would have to look harder to find more elusive animals. What your thinking of is more along the lines of a breeding/conservation center. That case you wouldn't get as many complaints from people and you could also give private tours. But of course funding stands in most everyone way in opening a zoo or conservation center. The only way to start a center successfully is starting out with one or two species and growing every couple years or so.
     
  13. The KCZooman

    The KCZooman Well-Known Member

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    Hey kbaker116

    Just curious, do you have an idea of what you want your zoo to look-like?
     
  14. dragon(ele)nerd

    dragon(ele)nerd Well-Known Member

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    on a channel called uktv over here there is a show called Help! I bought a zoo.

    A women bought a run down zoo for one million pounds I think it is and is trying to renovate into her dream zoo.
     
  15. Jacobea

    Jacobea Well-Known Member

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    That's the sort of crazy thing I'd love to do - buy a run down zoo, revamp and turn it into a respectable conservation breeding facility and place to hold surplus and undesirable stock (like hybrids) for other, more mainstream zoos.
     
  16. kbaker116

    kbaker116 Well-Known Member

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    Well thanks for asking KCZooman. Over the last couple years I have been talking to zoo owners, exotic animals owners, zookeepers, vets, etc. I have been gathering knowledge, and learning more things about animal husbandry every day. I have a couple of different options, I could either go the zoo, safari park, or conservation center route. All of which I would enjoy but it comes down to which is the best for not only the animals but a business also. I would have to say ungulates are my favorite and would probably start off with either a breeding group of addax or scimatar oryx. This would be my first investment. After them I would hope to soon later own Dromedary Camels, Grevy Zebra, and African Eland. Even though I would rather enjoy going straight to animals such as Bongo, Hartman's Zebra, and Sitatunga from the people I have talked to they say these aren't good for starting off with. After growing in hoof stock. I would hope then to start mixing animals in a larger enclosure, eventually creating a safari where people will ride in percheron drawn wagons. After opening to the public I would hope to add Capybaras, Cranes, Macaws, Muntjacs, and others. Anyways what I would hope to eventually become a safari where I will have more natural exhibits. For instance animals like elk and addax wouldn't be in the same area. I would keep more endangered ungulates in side habitats that are large and dense. For animals like Gaur, Banteng, Bongo, Sable, Roan, Hartman's Zebra, Greater Kudu, Three types of Tapir, 4 types of Rhino, Takin etc. The large center safari would include all African savannah animals. The actual zoo part would be larger and have Sumatran and Bengal Tigers, Amur and African Leopard, African Lion, Cheetah, and Sun Bears. It would also include a large guenon collection, a large aviary, a reptile house, pygmy hippo, Okapi, gibbons, Mandrills, Orangutans, Gorillas, and Elephants. Maybe also an aquarium would be nice. I hope to become a not only a zoo but a breeding center for many endangered animals. I also hope to maybe work on breeding purebred Bengal Tigers. I am not sure how easy that would be but it would be one goal of mine. I would like to one day release endangered animals into the wild to help with wild populations. It may sound like I'm would probably decide not to be AZA accredited to start off with but maybe later, when the zoo grows. Hopefully you enjoyed my summary of what I hope to accomplish.

    To add: Suprisingly I have seen a few zoos/animal attractions offered for sale in the U.S. A roadside zoo with giraffes, tapirs, many primates, and other ungulates was offered at 5 million, with a house and pet shop included. A Florida gator park is up for sale right now, a sancutary in Florida is also. A Texas animal park less the animals is up for sale too. I was suprised to see all of these, and the prices that they were at. I can imagine it would be risky to open up a zoo that had closed down, because of worrying about how many people come to visit. I wouldn't think about fixing up a rundown zoo if it had closed because of funding. But it may be a different if the owner was simply retiring. I don't know what do you guys think about it?
     
  17. PAT

    PAT Well-Known Member

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    I like your ideas and in America I can see it being done. It seems like you know to run the place as a business and not a hobby that got out of control if you know what I mean. :)
     
  18. Arizona Docent

    Arizona Docent Well-Known Member Premium Member

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    There is a saying in America about the three things that are necessary for a successful business: Location, Location, Location. This it seems to me would be a major obstacle, unless you have a source of funding which does not rely on large visitor attendance, in which case you could buy cheap land in the middle of nowhere. But to guarantee attendance numbers (and income from ticket sales) you would have to be located in or near a major city, but every major city in the U.S. that I know of except one already has a zoo. (The one exception is Las Vegas, Nevada, and I would love to see someone open a good zoo there).

    Of course, land in a major city is prohibitively expensive, unless you broker a deal with the city for bringing in a tourist attraction. All this being said, I suppose if your facility was very different from the existing zoo then there would be room for both. If any ZooChatter does open a zoo, I know we would all be very supportive and could even organize a ZooChat get together for the grand opening!
     
  19. Vulpes

    Vulpes Well-Known Member

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    I didnt know there wasnt a zoo in Las vegas! there are a few animal attractions in the casinos though!
     
  20. Arizona Docent

    Arizona Docent Well-Known Member Premium Member

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    There is a very small (4 acre) roadside zoo called Southern Nevada Zoo that is an absolute disgrace. So there is no "real" zoo. I saw an article within the last year about some other people suggesting they start one, but I don't think anything has come of it.