Community Spotlight | Emerald Coast Zoo

Hi everybody. Today I'm doing another community spotlight on the Emerald Coast Zoo. And today I'm here with Rick, who's going to tell me a little bit more about what's all in this zoo. So Rick, you want to tell us a little bit about the zoo?

Rick: Yeah, the first little guys, come here, they're walking right up. We might as well grab the right now.Hey Shiela! This is one of our newest members. This is little Sheila. And Sheila is a big red kangaroo. Believe it or not, that's a big red. The male's over there. And he stands about four foot. These guys are just babies, they are six months old. But by the time they're full grown, there'll be six, dude, maybe even seven feet tall. Incredible animals. And these little kangaroos, we'll be able to do kangaroo encounters with now. So you can come over to the zoo and hang out in their enclosure. We feel like we're in Australia. You can hang out with the kangaroos for a while. We do offer kangaroo encounters now.

Me: Kangaroo encounters, that is awesome. So tell me about plans that you have for the zoo going forward from this point.

Rick: Yeah, because we bought this, it's been about a year, almost a year and a half now. And I think that people that came out here see a lot of changes. But to me I just see work. We are still living in that crummy little RV. Me and my wife, my three kids, a monkey, a dog. I mean, it goes on and on. We're still living in the RV. But we want to make this place more comfortable for the animals before we get our house going. But we're getting close.

Me: Awesome.

Rick: We're getting close.

Me: You told me about a Go Fund Me that you've got going on for something that's a big, big project, right?

Rick: Because our dreams were to buy the zoo and we're living our dreams. And I know if it's God's plan it cannot fail. And it's definitely God's plan. But we are, we're running out of money. We went to the banks, we're like, "Hey, can we get some money?" They're like, "We're not giving loaning you any money for a zoo! Not until you've been in business for three years or something." So really the community helps. But we're trying to do a Go Fund Me so that we can really do all of our dreams and all of the animals' dreams out here. So we're going to ... Some of my old A&E producers came out here and helped me do that. So hopefully that works, that would be cool. Because then the animals get what they deserve. It'll be amazing.

Me: Absolutely, because it's all about the animals in the end.

Rick: Absolutely. Look at these little kangaroos bouncing around.

Me: We got kangaroos. So tell me a little bit more about other animals that you have here.

Rick: Some that you've never heard of. I can go that way.

Me: You can go that way.

Rick: We just got another one. It's a binturong, an Adriatic bear cat. And his sign isn't up yet.

So everybody that walks by is like, "Dude, what is that?" Right?

Me: Wow.

Rick: Very rare animal. And it is here. It's also my son, who's 17, they call him Tarzan, it's his favorite animal in the whole wide world. And now you can come out to the Emerald Coast Zoo and see what in the heck is a binturong. You know why you have to come out and see it too? Because it has a very distinct smell. It smells like popcorn.

Me: The animal itself?

Rick: The animal's poo, dude, smells like popcorn. Tell me that's not awesome! Right?

Me: I need to have an animal like that in my house instead of cats. Because their poop does not smell like popcorn.

Rick: Yeah, you got to come out here and smell it.

Me: Well, I know you've got some different animals here. I saw have camels. I had no idea that you had camels here. I didn't know how big this zoo was until I came. You have a lot more animals here than people might think. It's not just a petting zoo.

Rick: And you get and you get closer. We hate it when people call it a petting zoo. But you know why they call it a petting zoo?

Me: Because you get close to the animals?

Rick: You get to pet them. At other zoos, you can't pet them.

Me: But typically that's small animals. But you've got some really nice, exotic animals here.

Rick: Yeah, we have some of the greatest camel people here. The Bars, we met the Bars and they became really good friends of ours. And they do camel rides right over there. I mean how cool is it that you get to ride a camel and you can almost feel like you're in the desert. And you're just riding around. The kids just love it.

Me: Oh man, I can imagine.

Rick: Everybody loves it. It's for everyone. There is a 225 pound weight limit. So just a little warning. I'm right at that cutoff but he let me slide on there.

Me: Oh, nice! hopefully the camel didn't mind.

Rick: And you know what's cool? The camels absolutely love it.

Me: Do they really?

Rick: We have two camels, so we switch them off. And when we're working one, when he's riding one, the other camel's like, "Dude, I want to do it, I want to play." So we have to tie him up. So it's like, "You'll get your turn but you got to wait over there."

Me: How fun!

Rick: And the animals, in the wild or in zoos or circuses, where do you think they live the longest?

Me: The zoos.

Rick: Circuses.

Me: Really?

Rick: Because they work them. Because the animals get jobs. So if those animals have jobs and those camels know what their jobs are-

Me: Same with people isn't it?

Rick: It is. Yeah. If you're sitting at home not doing anything all day.

Me: You have nothing else to do, you're done.

Rick: Those camels absolutely love it. And you can come out here and check out our camels, you'll see they're marvelous camels. They are incredible.

Me: They are beautiful animals.

Rick: Very well taken care of.

Me: So now the folks in Crestview, how can they help the animals and help you get to your dream? And tell them how to get to here.

Rick: You can look us up. Our Facebook page is really the best way to find us.

Me: Yeah.

Rick: And check out our rev reviews. Maybe write us a review. And come out here and tell your friends to come out. Cause really all we want to do, we want to keep the prices really low. It's only $10 for an adult and kids are even cheaper. We offer military discounts, all kinds of stuff. You can have birthday parties out here. You can get animal feed to feed some of the animals. And then you could get parakeet sticks to go into our parakeet house. We have birds that fly all over you.

Me: Oh, that sounds fun.

Rick: It's an amazing time for everyone.

Me: Oh my gosh, that sounds amazing. That's awesome.

Rick: And we have an Amazon wishlist. Where we don't write on there, our keepers do. And they say, "Hey, Levi the lion, he would really liked this ball to play with." So they put it on there. We don't even get to put that stuff on there.

Me: That's fun.

Rick: This is one of the zoo favorites here, kids love coming here and feeding Fang. He's been here for a long time. Fang's probably 10 to 12 years old. And he's the smallest of the deer species called the muntjac deer. What do you think little Moose? He's still getting used to people. Are you friendly Moose? You're all right, right? What a good little Moose. So our goal is here, Noah did it two of a kind but we want to kind of do it three of a kind. Have one male and two females around so that we can reproduce some of these awesome animals. And a lot of them around here are endangered too. So if it wasn't for private zoos like this, they wouldn't even be around anymore. But the muntjacs, they're not in danger. They're just adorable, aren't they? Good job, Moose.

Me: You guys, if you're in Crestview, this zoo is amazing. And if you didn't know it was here before, it's right off of Highway 90 on the east side of 85. It's at, what's the address?

Rick: 5262 Deer Springs Drive.

Me: From Rick and all the animals here, I'm Jodie Cordell from Spence Properties. And just remember, it's my mission to help you live where you love and love where you live. Come out to the zoo and check it out. You're going to love it.

Rick: Thank you, thank you Jodie.

Me: Thank you.

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