Emerald Coast Zoo
So, you ask, what makes this zoo so special? Well…it’s the people! Yep. The people. Last year Rick de Ridder (Rick the Reptile Guy) from the A&E TV show “Wild Transport” heard about the Emerald Coast Zoo and how it was in danger of closure by government agencies. He knew that if the zoo closed, many of the animals there would be euthanized, and he just couldn’t just sit back and let that happen. He sold his home and all his belongings and purchased the zoo. How about that for making a difference and taking action!
Of course, he couldn’t do this without the blessings of his wife Sara and their three kids David (better known as Tarzan to the locals), Suzy, and Betsy. They purchased a large camper and moved their family of five onto the zoo property, and there they live. We can't think of many families that would even begin to make an idea like this a reality, but that's what this family does.
With the de Ridder’s love and passion for the animals they acquired comes a new passion to make the zoo survive. Many locals have rallied around them with a progressive Go Fund Me page to help with the building of the required larger, new enclosures. For the community it brings a new awareness that there is this super cool zoo right here in our backyard that so many never even knew about
The de Ridders have started new programs to bring awareness such as summer camps, goat yoga and many amazing animal encounters. Rick makes himself available to go to church groups, schools and events to educate, entertain and inform.
This non-profit, family-owned and operated zoo is not out of the woods yet. It takes a lot of money to feed the lions and tigers (which zoo workers actually held and played with when they were just little cubs some 15 years ago) and all the other wonderful animals at The Emerald Coast Zoo. With new enclosures still being built, the zoo is asking for assistance as they are truly in need of money to improve it. With everyone’s help, they’ll be able to reap the rewards of seeing these animals live in environments more natural to them and will have continued access to these amazing animals who, for the most part, were all hand-raised at this very zoo.
To contribute, please visit the Go Fund Me link at https://www.gofundme.com/manage/p5kmr-please-help-us-help-them
Cool Factors: So many hands on encounters, Passionately owned family non-profit, The big cats.
Emerald Coast Zoo
5262 Deer Springs Dr