Gary Hill Posted January 6, 2010 Report Share Posted January 6, 2010 Ya know Warner LeRoy gets alot of credit for developing Great Adventure. BUT as a faithful Ex Safari employee, I would like to take this opportuntie to talk about WHO really is responsible for The Safari. I first met Butch in the fall of 1972 in Texas. He came to our park World Of Animals to take control of our animals because our park had closed and we were all in limbo as to what was going to happen to them and us. Butch walked in and said "Hello Mates" and told us his plans for the developing park in New Jersey soon to be Great Adventure. As a young man I listened to him explain how great the park was going to be, I could see his vision in my mind. He described how certain habitats were going to be constructed and such, that I knew I wanted to work for this Man and be a part of something very special. We wintered the animals and come spring started the capture and transfer of over 1500 animals to Canada and to the future park in NJ. Butch would come down about twice amonth to make sure things were going good. One thing I learned about this Man is that he would entrust you to do your job and his Trust would make you want to work harder for him! He wanted Great Adventure to be his Masterpiece Animal Park. His experience came from working at the worlds first drive though Safari in Longlete, England with the world famous Chipperfield family. He also was running the park in Hemmingford , Quebec at the same time he was putting Great Adventure together. Never was Butch short or stressed with the work load he had put upon himself. He would always cheerfully greet you when he saw you and we enjoyed alot of good humor and many laughs. He was always there if you needed him, and would roll up his sleeves and work right beside you. RESPECT isn't a BIG enough word to descripe how I have always felt about him. He did so much for me and I will never forget how Good he was to me. I regret that I wasn't able to keep in touch with him over the years but he was always in my thoughts and they were always good. It would be so good to sit with him and reminise about all the FUN we had before and during the first years of Great Adventure Safari. I can't believe when I visited there this summer that everywhere I looked I saw is handy work. I was in the elephant barn looking at the gate latches he designed and the tepid water troughs the under gound heat system for the rhinos and there was so much more of him that I saw everywhere I looked. I guess you would of had to have been there during those years to see his work. It still stands today. I hated to see some of the changes that went away from his orginal design but thats the way the world is. I would hope that one day Great Adventure honors him in some way because of his vision and ideas that made Great Adventure the animal park it is today. When you live your life working with animals it is a part of you, it is not a job, it is your lifework. Butch instilled in me alot that I still use in my profession to this day! I know everyone that knows Butch has a story to tell about how special he can make you feel! I do wish more EX Safari employees would of made the effort to come to GA this summer for the Offical Reunion but they couldn't get enough ex employees from all the years to make the effort? I understand that Butch is in alot of physical pain from injuries he recieved years ago and I would hope that somehow his pain be reduced so he can enjoy his retirement. I THANK him for everything he did for me and will always hold a special place for him in my heart. God it would be so good to see and visit with him..... Quote Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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