The Building of the Monterey Zoo



When Wild Things’ owner, Charlie Sammut, decided to enter the animal industry, he did so with a very special partner, his lion Josef who without a doubt paved the way for Charlie’s career and the future of Wild Things.  In the early days of Wild Things, the primary source of income was the film and television industry.  As the company evolved, they ventured into the education industry and opened Wild Things to the public, welcoming all to see how the animals were kept, trained and cared for. 

In July 2008, Charlie faced his biggest tragedy and challenge of all.  He lost Josef at the age of twenty-two.  Charlie made Josef a promise; a promise that would afford the other animals a better quality of life.  A promise to finish what they had started together.  Wild Things continues to evolve today as it ventures into keeping that promise to Josef and building that home for the animals.  A home they are now calling, “Monterey Zoological Society”.  In 2011 they became a California 501(c) (3) nonprofit and broke ground in 2012 to build a REAL zoo!

The creation of large, natural style exhibits for the animals is the next milestone in the reinvention of the Monterey Zoo. The plan is to develop the unused portions of the 51-acre ranch, constructing large, natural, open enclosures for the larger animals (lions, tigers, bears). Then after completing and relocating the larger animals to their new enclosures, the existing facility will be remodeled offering larger more natural spaces to all the smaller animals. The Zoo’s first exhibit/project is slated to house the  “big” cats (lions, tigers and leopards), after which the goal is to secure sponsorship and funding for additional exhibits 

These projects will bring change to the zoo that will increase levels of interaction and engagement with zoo guests, staff and all of the animals.  Creating nose-to-nose experiences with the animal ambassadors to build lasting guest memories to better the bond between people and the planet.  According to Charlie, “We are excited about this plan because not only will expansion of the Zoo’s footprint enhance the zoo visitor’s experience, it will also significantly improve the site to the benefit of nearby communities, the city and region.”

We want to:
- Create large, natural sytle exhibits for the animals.
- Increase the amount of time visitors can view the animals.
- Continue to educate visitors about conservation.
- Continue to make our facility available to the less   fortunate in our community who might otherwise be unable to travel to SF or Santa Barbara to see animals.
- Create a beautiful urban park offering family fun and excitement, stimulating education programs, and a peaceful place to enjoy nature. 
- Provide educational, interactive experiences that continue to set us apart from most zoos.

We have the animals.  We have the property.  We have the expertise. 


The zoo is a non-profit organization and at this time 100% of the dollars needed for the build out of the Monterey Zoo are generated through its own fundraising efforts.

The breakdown of Phase I:

Completion of Tiger Exhibit - $600,000 FUNDED Estimated completion: FINISHED!

Zoo Pathways and Signs - $130,000 Estimated completion: Partially Completed

Zoo Restrooms - $100,000  Estimated completion: FINISHED!

Lion Exhibit - $600,000 - FUNDED completion: FINISHED!

Bear Exhibit - $750,000 Estimated completion: FINISHED!

Leopard Exhibit - $500,000 Estimated completion: January 2018

  • Uday Apte 
    • $250 
    • 42 mos
    • $25 
    • 45 mos
  • Anonymous 
    • $100 
    • 46 mos
    • $25 
    • 48 mos
  • Karen Proctor 
    • $100 
    • 49 mos
See all


Charlie Sammut 
Salinas, CA
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