Let me introduce myself, my name is Maria Jinks and I am co owner of Zoo Safari.
As long as I can remember, I have always had a fascination with the wild world we live in. As I was growing up everyone would ask the same old question, what would like to do when you grow up? As long as I can remember I have always told everyone that I wanted my own zoo.
In time that fascination became a passion. I have always wanted to work with animals of all types. Nothing too big or to small, I wanted to get my hands on it! So I went to the University of Washington and earned 2 degrees. The first one in Zoology and the other in Herpetology. I even took it a step further and got certified in vet technology, and a certificate in animal care. I have worked as a vet technician, and have worked for five major zoos.
I have also worked in the pet industry for 33 years,and have also experience in the export and importation of animals. I have worked with all types of animals from tiny fish to elephants.
Only with all of this experience did I feel comfortable enough to keep exotics of my own. I have, at one time owned my own Herpetarium, keeping at least up to several hundred reptiles at one time!
During all this I discovered that people were very fascinated with the different creatures that I had in my care. It started with tours at home. Then as word got out I had schools interested in seeing some of my collection.
The first question that was always asked was, how much does it cost? Not knowing how much something like this would cost, I asked around to other facilities that offer the same thing, and how much they charge. I was surprised to find out even in 1984 it was at least starting at $200! From there I talked to some teachers I knew and asked if this was something feasible for a classroom or even a whole school could afford to pay.
Even back then, schools were strapped for money. I kept thinking about the kids and what they were missing out on. I wanted to be able to share the fascination and passion I had for these animals. Then it came to me, instead of charging I decided to do all of my lectures on a donation basis only. This was the opportunity to be able to do my lectures and to be able to see the awe on children’s faces. I have been doing these lectures for at least 33 years and still going strong! I am a firm believer that children shouldn’t have to pay to learn something new.
It’s a shame and especially this day and age that no one can do anything educational without it costing something. Most parents, and especially schools can not afford to pay for these opportunities.
As long as I am physically able to do this, I will continue to do so, and as long as Zoo Safari USA exists we will continue to excite, educate and amaze everyone about the wild world we live in!