Tuttle’s Interactive Exotic Tiger Safari and Zoological Park is located in Tuttle, Oklahoma. The 45-acre zoo allows guests up-close interactive visits with exotic animals, a petting zoo, and a wide variety of games, events and camping options. Over 150 animals at the park include African leopards, lions and tigers, a brown bear and grizzly bear.
Among the more exotic animals are civets, an Australian wallaby and a kangaroo, Asian otter, jumanji, kinkajou, and camel. Foxes and ferrets, a bobcat, linx, serval and savannah cat round out the smaller animals. Reptiles at the park include alligators, bearded dragons, a variety of snakes, iguanas, and a tegu. Birds include an African grey parrot, emu, green wing macaw and harlequin macaw, and a cockatoo. Zoo staff pick three animals daily to display at interactive stations where guests may hold and touch the animals, and take up-close photos.
A replica of an authentic African village is located on the grounds of the zoo. The Shi-Awela Safari village offers two huts on a small lagoon. At the center of the lagoon is Lemur Island. Each hut accommodates 6 people and is outfitted with a fireplace, microwave, refrigerator and coffee maker. Guests who stay overnight receive complimentary admission to the zoo and animal interaction programs. Additional overnight stay options include camping at the Safari Tree House. The campsite offers a 30-foot tall viewing platform for a bird’s eye view of the park and the Oklahoma skyline. Primitive campsites are also available throughout the park.
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The Interactive Exotic Tiger Safari and Zoological Park is owned by husband and wife, Bill and Melissa Meadows. The couple began collecting exotic animals in 1993 with the purchase of a pet cougar named Shirkon. With the opening of Tiger Safari in 2003, the couple’s collection has since grown towards 160 animals. The Meadows take particular pride in their acquisition of a rare white snow tiger, as well as a tabby tiger. New animals continue to be acquired through exotic animal dealers. In 2010 the park significantly expanded with the addition of several new buildings including a 2,300-square foot convention center, the Safari Tree House, and a waterfall at the center of the park with pyrotechnic effects.
Now incorporated as a non-profit organization, the mission of the Zoo is to demonstrate best practices in animal husbandry and to model animal care for children and other guests. Whether or not the organization has achieved this mission has recently come under great scrutiny. In 2014 the U.S. Department of Agriculture sanctioned the facility with several animal welfare violations. In 2015 the park fell under the scrutiny of the Humane Society who alleged abuse of baby tigers, and again in 2016 after the death of a lion named Pharaoh. Pharaoh was the third animal to die at the park within the span of just a few months. Other deaths included a 4-year old white tiger cub, who choked on a foreign object, and a 4-year tiger and 2-year old lynx who passed of unknown causes. Veterinarians who work for the park say the lion’s old age made him susceptible to the bacterial infection that killed him.
3.Ongoing Programs and Education
One of the Zoo’s main programs is the “Zoo to You” animal encounter in which the zoo brings small and baby animals to birthday parties, school and church events, and corporate events and meetings. The 2-3 hour program allows participants to visit with up to ten animals including baby tigers, lemurs, Asian otters and anacondas.
Summer Camp programs at the zoo are geared towards children between 5 and 14 years of age. The animal husbandry programs teach children to care for animals through animal interactions, games, crafts and other activities. The Tiger Safari Zoological Parks Volunteer Program allows those ages 16 and over to volunteer on site, and includes a three month internship program that provides free lodging in exchange for volunteer services.
Five different outdoor pavilions are available for birthday parties, weddings and other events. Rental of the pavilions includes an animal encounter for guests. Sundowner Safari Tours are sunset tours that include VIP animal interactions. Private photo shoots with animals, sleepover parties, and scout troop camping programs are also available. Date Night takes place once quarterly and offers animal encounters, s’mores and hot-chocolate over an open fire, and after-hours access to the zoo.
963 County Street 2930, Tuttle, OK 73089, Phone: 405-318-9453
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Things to Do in Oklahoma: Tiger Safari