BROKEN ARROW, Okla - In a matter of days, Safari's Sanctuary in Broken Arrow will close it's doors to the public.
The owner hopes the closure is only temporary. But she admits the future is uncertain.
Seventeen years ago, Lori Ensign and her family started Safari's. It's been her life's mission to rescue animals and provide them with them with a safe place to live.
But now Ensign says it's time for her to retire after struggling with multiple sclerosis for nearly as long as she's had the sanctuary. She prays she can pass Safari's on to someone who will keep it going.
"I'm just trying to think forward and not let it get to me to where I am in a wheelchair and I am stuck - and I won't have any choice but to euthanize," Ensign said. "I am trying to find somebody who wants to either buy it out to let it continue, or letting our volunteers step up and try to take over. But even they are starting to realize it's a lot of work."
Ensign says some of the animals could be absorbed by other facilities, but she doesn't want them in situations where they could be locked in cages for the rest of their lives.
"None of them have ever been free. They are all rescues," she said. "The animals enjoy the visitors. This is what they know. When they don't get it, they fall into a depression and stop eating."
Across the park, upgrades to cages are underway. Ensign hopes that will help to expedite USDA license approval for a potential new owner. But it would likely take at least two months for a new owner to get federal approval to reopen the zoo to the public.
Ensign says the park has enough money to keep operating for only a few months.
"I've been saving. But past a few moths, it gets scary," she said. "We've got a battle ahead of us, but we are fighters."
Volunteers will continue to care for the animals after the park closes, and new volunteers are always welcome, Ensign says.
Safari's will be open to visitors this coming weekend. The park is open from noon to 5 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.
For information, call 918-357-LOVE
Donations can mailed to:
26881 E. 58th St.
Broken Arrow, OK 74133