Construction underway to make formal zoo in Salinas

Construction underway to make formal...

SALINAS, Calif. - In 1983 Wild Things Trainer Charlie Sammut entered the film industry. 

 "We worked for three years for live models for the Lion King, we worked on George of the Jungle, the Postman. We did lots of music videos for Michael Jackson, the list goes on and on," said Monterey Zoo Owner Sammut.

But the star studded lights came to a halt a few years back when Sammut had to make a tough decision.

"I would say about three years ago we saw the film industry leaving California, filming in States and Countries that are far less expensive to film in. So we had to evolve or move to those areas," said sammut.

Deciding to stay, wild things became the Monterey Zoo. 

"We're rebuilding the facility and turning it into a formal zoo. The first phase is to move lions, tigers and bears to the new section. We're calling it OZ. Once we did that it freed up the space down low," said Sammut.

Which bring us to the current phase, phase two. That includes building the bottom part of the Monterey Zoo to resemble the top section.

"When you come up here and see what the animals have, and how their lives are so much better. It makes it that much more difficult to go down there and see the ones we haven't done it for yet," said Sammut.

Once phase two is complete, the final phase includes a new entrance.

"We’re working feverishly to solicit sponsors and find people and business that are willing to contribute to the effort,” said Sammut.

Sammut estimates it will cost around three million dollars to finish phase 2 and 3, and open the doors someday as a formal zoo.

"We still haven’t abandoned the relationship that the film and television industry has raised me and my animals in. I think the relationship between the human and the animal is still the best mental stimulation I think the animal will ever get,” said Sammut. 

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