A Zoo In Monterey?

400 River Road
Salinas, CA  93908

(Formerly known as "Wild Things")

Their mission:  "Monterey Zoo" is dedicated to providing professionally & humanely trained wild/exotic & domestic birds and animals for film, television, live productions, education and much much more.   Monterey Zoo takes great pride in offering sanctuary to many animals that can no longer participate in entertainment or would otherwise not have a home or family.

Website:  Monterey Zoo - Wild Things

Our tour started in the gift shop, where we were welcomed with a big human smile and a parrot who squawked "Hello".     Check out the wall on your left when you walk in.  You will see a painting done by 19 year old African elephant, Akili.  The painting was done in 1996 and she has since passed, but the artwork is a joy to see.

In the gift shop, we met owner, Charlie Sammut
who has loved animals all his life.  He went to college and received a degree in Animal Health on the way to become a veterinarian.  He then went into law enforcement and worked in the Monterey Sheriff's Office and then as a Seaside Police officer.  It was then that he adopted an aging cougar who was being held illegally in a garage.  The owners no longer wanted the animal and Charlie obtained the permits necessary to keep him.   And this is where it pretty much all began.   As Charlie says, his hobby started to get out of hand...and soon, "Wild Things" was born.  He eventually left the force to care for his animals full time.

It was a moving experience as Charlie introduced us to the animals and talked about his plans, already in motion, to totally renovate the zoo to provide more space for the animals to roam.   Currently, a portion of the residents in the zoo are in California state mandated cages.   Charlie is not happy with those quarters for his animals and is updating the zoo to contain large areas where the animals can roam and interact with other species when appropriate.   In the elephant field you will find not only elephants, but a zebra, an ostrich and several water buffalo.     The tigers and lions are already enjoying their new luxurious digs.

Charlie introduced us to a monkey who immediately took to Hamilton, who is interviewing Charlie and running the camera at the same time.   The monkey   was fascinated by the camera and kept looking through the lens and directing the shots...(lol).   I think this picture will become our new company logo or Hamilton's new Facebook photo, anyway.

On our tour we also saw bears, a kangaroo, a porcupine, lemurs, several kinds of monkeys, a hyena, a pelican and several animals I have never seen before and I can't remember their names.

Many of the animals have known Charlie for all their lives and their love for each other is touching.

The zoo is always looking for sponsors and donors to help build bigger facilities for more of the animals.   Charlie saves a lot of money by doing much of the work himself...from post digging to laying cement and designing the environments.  You can sponsor building the zoo, or even sponsor specific animals.    Learn more about the sponsorship program here:  

Tours are given every day at 1pm. (Except Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day)   There is no need to call for a reservation... just show up and pay for the tour in the gift shop.
$12 per adult
$10 kids under 14
 $5  additional/person for an up close experience with the elephants

The zoo also offers a great educational experience for groups, schools and tours.  The outreach is designed to help students and adults learn about the animals and their environments, along with how to care and preserve those habitats. 

The zoo is located on the beautiful 51 acre Vision Quest Ranch, located in the sun belt between Monterey and Salinas.  Just an easy 15 minutes from the RV Park in the Laguna Seca Recreation Area.   

Vision Quest Ranch is a Safari style Bed and Breakfast.   There are many packages you can choose that include tours of the zoo, having your breakfast delivered by an elephant or feeding the tigers!    To find out more about the rooms and all the cool choices of animal interaction, click this link: http://www.wildthingsinc.com/html/b-b.html

There is also great boarding for dogs and cats and an equestrian center on the property.

I think if you are going to be at the RV Park at Laguna Seca Recreation Area for a trip, you might like to not only take the tour at the zoo, but maybe spend the night!

Take a left onto Highway 68 and head toward Salinas.   Go approximately 8 miles and take the "River Road" exit.    At the bottom of the exit, take a right onto River Road and travel about 2.5 miles.     The Zoo, the Oxton Kennels and Vision Quest Equestrian Center will be on the right. 

Vision Quest Safari Bed and Breakfast:
A review from September, 2014
We did a full experience and spent the night in one of their wonderful cabins. It was awesome having breakfast delivered by an elephant. We got to bathe an elephant and feed a tiger and pet a monkey. We have been to Africa and this was as great an experience because we could get closer to the animals. By the way did I say we got to put the elephants to bed! After a hard day of playing with animals we could sit on our deck and overlook the park.

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