Guest Author - Nick Greene
The Meeks' family farm, in rural Spartanburg County started out with the usual assortment of farm animals, supplemented by typical South Carolina native species such as squirrels, opossums, foxes and raccoons. Their son, David, developed a talent for working with animals. In fact, it was he who acquired the first exotic animal to join the farm, a monkey he got in a trade with his college roommate.
Soon, the collection of animals grew to include deer, swans, monkeys, capybaras, tigers, pheasants, lions, ducks, bears and otters. As people began wanting to visit and see the menagerie, the Meeks family realized they had an opportunity and David and his father opened the M & M Zoo in 1970. It even included an Asian elephant, Donna (1967 - 2007), who was a particular favorite of visitors.
David and his wife, Lucia bought his father's portion of the enterprise in 1985 with plans to expand the business. David also began using his rapport with animals to work in film and television. Eventually, this connection led to a name change for the park to Hollywild as homage to the Hollywood connection.
Today, Hollywild has expanded its collection to over 500 animals and has become a 501 (C) (3) Non-Profit Organization.
Feel free to bring a picnic and enjoy a meal in the presence of fascinating creatures. There are picnic spots throughout the park and larger shelter can be reserved for family, group or business functions.
Take the Hollywild Safari Ride through 70+ acres filled with exotic animals, many of whom you may recognize from their film and television work. You'll have many opportunities to interact with animals, from pettings to feedings. Don't forget your camera.
One very special event every year is the Holiday Lights Safari Benefit. You can drive your own vehicle through nearly 100 acres with millions of lights, sculptures and herds of live animals. What a spectacle to behold.
Hollywild also works with schools, scouting organizations, homeschoolers and other groups for field trips or they can arrange to come to your site. The organization can handle parties and business gatherings. There are also many volunteer opportunities available. Contact the park for more information.
Just a few of the stars you'll meet include “Tank,” the white rhinoceros (the only working Rhino in the US); Capuchin monkeys; macaws; Siberian tigers and other big cats; European brown bears; camels, “Alfonso,” the leopard appaloosa horse and "Pongo,” the orangutan. You'll learn about the commercials and TV shows they have starred in and films like "The Big Chill," "Prancer," "Days of Thunder," "Prince of Tides" and "The Stand."
It will be a day that everyone young and old will remember.
Hollywild Animal Park (http://www.hollywild.com/index.html)
2325 Hampton Road
Wellford, SC 29385
Telephone: (864) 472-2038