In early 1987, Babu, our first rescue animal, was quickly outgrowing the space he lived in and we needed a facility to board him.
We found an exotic animal trainer in Riverside County, California, who had available enclosures. The trainer was facing a financial crisis from health issues and was losing his property in foreclosure. He could also no longer care for his two tigers living on the property.
With incredible urgency, several of us agreed to purchase the property so that Babu and the two tigers would have a permanent sanctuary.
At that time, most of the five acres was covered with head-high wild mustard, thistles and overgrown river willows. In the spring and summer, just getting to the cat enclosures required hacking a trail through the dense landscape. Ticks, fleas, mosquitoes and flies made life difficult for both volunteers and animals.
Over the next 10 years, foot by foot, season by season, all-volunteer crews cleared, trimmed, planted and graded to create the natural, yet park-like landscape you see today. Since we had not yet become a 501(c)(3) foundation, each dollar spent during these years was contributed by the original group of dedicated friends.
Animazonia continues to be an oasis in the midst of the Riverside chaparral and desert. A grove of 200 Citrodora Eucalyptus planted over 40 years ago, several California Pepper trees and a stand of Cottonwoods all provide shade and shelter for the land and keep the temperature at Animazonia at least ten degrees cooler than the surrounding areas during the strong summer heat.
The land provides the animals with a secluded and serene home and we truly believe that maintaining this peaceful environment is crucial to the health and well-being of the cats and other animals in our care.