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September 6, 2013

Animal habitat adds new members

TUTTLE —

There are two new faces at Tiger Safari. 

Teka and Marley, two four-year-old white handed gibbon apes are currently on display at Tiger Safari. Currently, these are the only two white handed gibbon apes on exhibit in Oklahoma, Bill Meadows, owner of Tiger Safari in Tuttle, Okla. The huge, 45 acre park has nine different birthday party areas and over 170 different types of animals. 

Tiger Safari will soon celebrate its 10-Year Anniversary on Sept. 23. 

On Sept. 21, Tiger Safari will have the first annual Boofari fall festival event, which will run through Nov. 5. There will be a hayride, pumpkin patch and treats for the kids. 

The new education center will also open on Sept. 21. It will feature 30 foot tall ceilings and a massive fireplace. A 72 foot pipe within the structure will be painted like an anaconda and outfitted with LCD lights. A new reptile center is also under construction. 

Educating the public is something that Tiger Safari has concentrated on for a long time. They currently have a "Zoo to You" program, where a custom van brings live exotic animals to schools and public events. 

Weddings, birthday parties and a variety of group tours ranging in sizes and ages. There is a large facility which can seat about 125 people. 

"People don't know we have this stuff out here,'" Meadows said. 

Meadows is originally from New York. He moved to Oklahoma 25 years ago, he said. 

"I've always had a love for animals," Meadows said. "I never thought I'd be doing what I'm doing now." 

Meadows is a busy guy. He also works for the Oklahoma City Fire Department and is up every morning by about 5 a.m. 

Meadows said although he recognizes he's handling animals that could potentially cause him severe injury, he's never nervous. 

"I face more risks working for the fire department," he said. 

He said it's usually trainers, rather than the general public, that get injured by big cats. 

Within the next nine months, the zoo is expected to get some cheetahs. 

Meadows said Tiger Safari has been working on acquiring the spotted, famously fast cats for five or six years.

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