Animal Tails

Animals influence our lives on a daily basis, whether it is our pets or the wildlife around us. When you wake up in the morning your cat will be laying beside you on the extra pillow, she looks at you, yawns and goes back to sleep. Your dog greets you at the door when you come home, jumping and laughing because you came home just for him.

The birds in your backyard, start waking up with just a little peep as the crickets and frogs of the nightlife begin to go quiet. Deer in your backfield graze peacefully in the growing dusk as the owl begins to hunt.

The stories you are about to read reflect our love and compassion for the animals that have personally impacted our lives.


Lose yourself in nature and find peace.

-Ralph Waldo Emerson


                                       EMUS FOR CHRISTMAS


In June of 1999 Zoo Safari moved to its current location. It was hectic getting the few animals we had set up and getting anything new never crossed our minds.

As the hot summer months ended and the fall months turned cooler, our thoughts turned to Christmas, things changed, not just it being our first Christmas at the zoo but something new.

Christmas was just two days away; I needed to go to Tulsa to get animal supplies, my older brother Doug decided he would join me. Maria needed to take our son August to get his annual picture taken with Santa Clause along with our sister-in law Michelle and her daughter Kara.

Driving down 71st street in Tulsa during new road construction at that time was pretty hairy to say the least. Two lanes turning into one then two and back to one again, I had to stay focused.

As Doug and I talked about this and that he received a phone call, the only thing I could hear of course was his half of the conversation.



“We are on 71st right now.”

“Uh, hu.”


“Repeat that.”

“Ok, I’ll tell him.”

And without skipping a beat, he turns to me and says, “John, you have emus.”

“No, I don’t have emus” I said back, avoiding a construction cone that had fallen into the driving lane.

“Yes you do”. He said smugly.

“Doug, I would know if I had emus.”

“Well you have emus now!”

I was confused because I knew when we all left the house earlier there were no emus.

“Who is it your talking to”, I asked, swerving to stay in the open lane and avoiding in creating an accident on 71st street.


“Can I have the phone”, I know I should have not been on the phone while driving, but at that time it was not illegal to do so.

He hands me the phone, “Michelle”.

“Yes.” She answered back.

“ I thought you all were in Muskogee getting the kids picture taken with Santa?”

“We did.”

“So where are you now?”

“Standing in your backyard, watching Maria feed the emus.”

“She is doing what?”

“Feeding the emus.”

“DON’T FEED THEM”, I shouted into the phone. That is when Doug started yelling at me to keep my eyes on the road, and taking the phone away from me.

I found out later what had happened.

Maria had just driven into the driveway, not paying attention to anything but parking the car. When Michelle said, “When did you get the emus?”

“I don’t have emus”, Maria said turning off the car.

“Then what are those?” Michelle asked pointing toward the field behind the house.

Maria looked to where Michelle was pointing, and sure enough there were two emus standing at the gate. Maria and Michelle took the kids into the house, got grapes from the refrigerator, and coaxed the birds into the front yard.

The night before Maria prayed and asked God if this was what we were supposed to do, build a zoo, and educate the public. If so please give her a sign. The emus were the sign.

During the mid 1990’s emus were very popular as a meat source, but when the market for them collapsed and the birds were not worth the thousands of dollars they were before, those that had them just opened their gates and let the birds run free. That is how our emus had come to us.

We do not know who owned the birds before us, nor has anyone stopped by to say they were the previous owner.

Needless to say, years later Chainey and Hershey are still with us. Chainey is a sweetheart she loves hugs and getting her neck rubbed. She also enjoys laying her head on my chest and taking a nap. Hershey on the other hand has never liked being touched, is apprehensive, and protective of Chainey.

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