You've heard the story about "The Little Engine That Could"...a popular but old children's story about the little engine that made it up the side and over the top of a mountain, "I think I can, I think I can, I think I can...."? This is the story of a little zoo in Gulf Shores.....The Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo, star of the 2006 Animal Planet series.....
|Patti Hall, courtesy of Jon Hauge/Correspondent|
Once again, in 2005, with Hurricane Dennis advancing on the Gulf Coast, Patti Hall and her staff evacuated all the animals to her home and grounds in Elberta, AL and waited out the storm...The damages from hurricanes are usually extensive and exhaustive to the zoo's human and monetary resources. Ivan and Katrina were the worst for the zoo. This little zoo depends entirely on donations, memberships and contributions to stay open, no small feat in this day and age of competition for the public's supporting dollars.
Ten months later, after trying to rebuild from Hurricane Dennis, Hurricane Katrina hit. The third time's the charm. Patti and her staff evacuated yet again, with a formal evacuation plan in place and it went much more smoothly. Unfortunately, they had to rebuild and repair from one of the country's worst hurricane storms, AGAIN.
That's a great story behind this hardworking lady, her staff and the zoo. For more information, watch the Animal Planet videos "The Little Zoo That Could"..But here's one short link about this remarkable lady....http://blog.al.com/pr-community-news/2011/06/reality_show_turned_patti_hall.html
Sparky watched a little of the reality series on the zoo, the staff, and the animals, and thought it was a wonderful story. Chuckie, the 15 foot alligator, was one animal that caught Sparky's interest--he had to be left behind during one of the hurricanes, and with the storm surge of about 12 feet, Chuckie floated right out of the zoo, but they found him later very close by. Chuckie USED to be in Gulf State Park. Apparently, Chuckie made lunch out of a couple of little dogs so he was removed from the park, or so the story goes. The park asked the zoo to take him and he's still there, the oldest zoo resident.
The love that Patti and her staff have for their small "animal planet" is so evident...It was a wonderful, heartwarming story. Sparky just had to go for a visit to the zoo to see how it was doing. What a great little zoo! Eight dollars for seniors 55 and older, 10.00 for adults, 5.00 for children. The animal count is now up to over 500, and for a small zoo, it's one of the cleanest, prettiest zoos Sparky has ever seen. The zoo is working on getting a new home a few miles inland so another evacuation will not have to happen. They hope to move the animals one last time some time in 2013.
The animals are well cared for, that is very evident. They have fresh food, fresh fruits and vegetables, lots and lots of toys to play with and the layout/landscaping of the zoo is just beautiful! They have several observation towers where you can get up and get a much better view looking OVER the fence.
There are a LOT of exotic birds here....
And so was this little girl feeding a goat...
|"Well, if you REALLY want the rest of my food, I guess you can have it!"|