Hello there and welcome to our website! Here is our little story about how Big Joel's Safari came to be.
Joel and his wife, Mimi, opened Big Joel's Safari Petting Zoo and Educational Park to the public in July, 2012. Our facility is a zoo and agri-tourism attraction recognized by the Missouri Farm Bureau. We are a privately funded and licensed facility. We do not receive funds from the government or receive any donations from any organizations and the public.
Before opening our farm to the public, we had been working with and raising animals for many years. In fact, we have had many of our larger residents since they were only a few weeks old. Such as "Gus" now one of our big camels and "Pumpkin" our bison cow. Joel has always had a passion for animals and got his first "exotic" pet, a ball python when he was 6 years old. It only grew from there as you can see today and Big Joel is the main culprit! He played college football for Mizzou and graduated with his degree in Animal Sciences in 2007. It was at Mizzou that he met his wife Melissa, "Mimi", who also shared a passion for animals. She almost went to school to be a veterinarian, but became an occupational therapists instead (don't worry Joel has forgiven her).
Joel continued to play professional football for a few years after graduation and began to work more intensely with exotic animals during his off seasons. Not only at his own farm, but at larger facilities owned by close friends. Some of which you might have visited yourselves. Over the years we kept adding more animals. Friends and family enjoyed coming over to see the animals and as the word spread, many people would stop in the driveway to view the animals. It was from the encouragement of friends, that we began to plan opening a small animal park.
Years of learning to care and handle different animals helped us create what you can come see today. Big Joel & Mimi are members of the ZAA ( Zoological Association of America) and other organizations to further our animals and our park (if you stop learning you are no longer the expert!). It wasn't always easy though when both of them were working full-time jobs, building the park, and taking care of the animals as well. Now it is Big Joel's full-time job and Mimi's part-time job. The farm also keeps the rest of the Clinger family (mainly Joel's Parents) busy. We are proud of our animals and of our family that have helped us create our one of kind farm. But don't worry, we are not done just yet, as we are always planning new projects.
So that is the short story of how our farm became a zoo. Big Joel's Safari is still mainly ran by Family and now with the help of friends. To keep up on new projects, animals, and news "Like" us on Facebook. We would like to thank you for taking the time to learn a little about us, our farm, and of course, the animals. We hope to see you soon!
Big Joel & Mimi