After being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, Lori Ensign started caring for rescued exotic animals to pass the time.
"My doctor told me to get a hobby," Ensign laughed.
That hobby quickly grew to become Safari's Wildlife Sanctuary.
"We're not about being a big zoo, we're about taking care of what people have discarded," Ensign said.
In 2012, her condition worsened and Ensign had to close the Broken Arrow facility to the public.
"I just can't do what I used to be able to do, and people don't volunteer like they used to," Ensign said.
Run entirely by volunteers and donations, the family-owned nonprofit is now in need of some helping hands.
"We would have 30 volunteers that would come weekly, now some days we have two," she explained.
Seventeen-year-old Tiana Sanders has the daily chore of sweeping up the animals cages, like that of an African Porcupine named "Needles."
"We don't get a lot of people that stay very long," Sanders said.
She has been a volunteer at Safari's for a year and a half.
Logan Sware is 15 years old. She volunteers at the sanctuary on weekends.
"If we don't have enough volunteers, it's me and some of the regular volunteers doing all the work out here," she said.
The sanctuary has more than 250 animals, like the Liger, a mix between a tiger and a lion made popular in the movie "Napoleon Dynamite," and the other celebrity of the big cats, one of Mike Tyson's tigers, Shammy. She is a rare breed called a Golden Tabby tiger.
With around 25 big cats at Safari's, that's a lot of mouths to feed.
"They eat about 5,000 pounds of meat a month," Ensign said.
But for the Safari's family, helping these helpless animals is worth every penny.
A few items needed if you can't volunteer:
- Towels, blankets, heaters, cleaning supplies (paper towels, spray cleaners, bleach, trash bags, Ziploc bags)
- Food items (dry goods, oatmeal, spaghetti, macaroni, cereals, soups, spaghetti sauces, raisins, dried fruits, canned fruits and veggies)
- Any leftover meat or carcas you don't want