A troupe of patas monkeys escaped over the weekend from a new animal attraction called Safari Wild, north of Lakeland (10850 Moore Road).
Home for the monkeys had been an island surround by a moat on the property. According to an article in the Tampa Tribune, “On Saturday, a female with a baby on her back went into the water and swam across. The rest of the troupe followed.” Lex Salisbury, Safari Wild’s president, said he thought the water would be enough of a barrier to keep the monkeys confined. But the monkeys not only weren’t afraid of going in the water, they also climbed over two fences to make their escape into rural Polk County. Salisbury said it could take a week or more to locate and recapture the animals. The incident should be a wake-up call for Safari Wild’s neighbors.
When he is not working to expand his private collection of exotic animals, Lex Salisbury* keeps busy as the President/CEO of Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo. Salisbury has stated that his plans for Safari Wild include giraffes, zebras and even elephants. (The facility could also be a dumping ground for Lowry Park Zoo’s surplus animals.)
You Can Help
Please contact the Polk County Commission and urge them– for the welfare of animals and the safety of the public– to take a close look at Lex Salisbury’s plans for Safari Wild. In light of the recent escape, perhaps a new zoo is not the best thing for the county.
Commissioner Sam Johnson (Chairman)
Commissioner Jean Reed (Vice Chairman)
Commissioner Bob English
Commissioner Randy Wilkinson
Commissioner Jack Myers
For more information about Lex Salisbury and the Lowry Park Zoo, we recommend visiting Tampa’s Zoo Advocates, a very informative website maintained by a former zoo employee.
*Salisbury is also a founding member of The Zoological Association of America, an organization that promotes the private breeding and sale of exotic animals. It’s stated mission is to “Protect and defend the right to own animals” and “Defend the owners of animals against the false allegations and mischaracterizations of animal rights activists.” Members of the group include disreputable zoos, such as Miami’s Jungle Island, who have been denied accreditation by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums.