‘Survival of the Fittest’—Sonoma’s Safari West Secures a Future for Wildlife Through a Commitment to Excellence in Conservation Science, Management & Engagement

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Congrats to the impassioned conservators of nature and pioneering ecotravel professionals at Safari West.  The wildlife preserve was recently named one of the five best wildlife parks in the nation by USA Today.

Screen Shot 2018-05-11 at 9.55.48 PMThis distinct honor follows the conservation center’s miraculous survival, as the campus endured one of the worst wildfires in California history.  A testament to staff dedication, perseverance and community support, recognition as a top wildlife viewing venue also speaks to the remarkable leadership of Safari West’s founding owners. Nancy and Peter Lang are known worldwide as innovative animal care professionals. Their illustrious careers as wildlife conservationists and welfarists can’t be overstated, but it is their commitment to guest engagement and the visitor experience that is second to none.

96051931-0398-4CF3-B38C-A324BBDFA6F2Following the wildfires, Mr. Lang has also now been recognized as a champion among animal rescuers for his relentless determination, dedication and commitment to the wellbeing of the animal ambassadors in his care. And in doing so, he leads by example for zoological park leaders everywhere. His recent disaster response efforts were praised when he was awarded the 2018 Animal Rescue Hero award by the American Red Cross.

The world’s most reputable zoos and aquariums, most of which are accredited by national and/or international associations, musy comply with rigorous standards of excellence in zoo and wildlife medicine and husbandry, which dictates adherence to best practices in animal care and welfare. Included in meeting rigororous criteria for membership eligibility, is the planning, implementation and execution of emergency response protocols in anticipation of natural disasters, particularly in high risk areas.

The resilience exhibited by the Safari West leadership and extended family, including several employees who lost their homes, is nothing short of commendable.

Safari West’s wildlife viewing campus is unique among zoological centers worldwide. It is among a few open-range conservation breeding facilities to be accredited by a national or international zoo association, and it is one of the few privately owned institutions to be accredited by North America’s Association of Zoos and Aquariums, or any zoo or aquarium association.

02D4C1AD-99AB-4468-A821-8DFAD3B4BB67The Lang’s and their dedicated staff of ‘exotic’ animal care and welfare professionals have redefined luxury ecotourism. These game-changing and enterprising environmentalists have transformed the rolling hills of Sonoma County into a tremendous cultural attraction. The safari park not only engages and educates patrons through offering initiate environmental immersion experiences and riveting upclose animal encounters, but they simulating the savanna experience so much so, you’d have to really know floral assemblages like a botanist to ascertain whether or not you were in East Africa or Northern California.

Colloquially known as “Sonoma’s Serengeti”, Safari West in conjunction with its nonprofit sister organization Safari West Foundation, demonstrates an exemplary and progressive partnership committed to securing a future for conservation-sensitive species. It does this through breeding and management of reserve populations and contributions to local and range country conservation science

The safeguarding of free-ranging populations, which includes protection of requisite wild habitat (available and species appropriate) requires significant financial support, which the organization makes available through the foundation’s organizational advancement and development programs.


5104842F-28C0-40B3-9841-40B1C2500450A few years ago, the Langs graciously hosted me at the Safari West Wildlife Preserve. The campus is as accommodating to day and overnight guests seeking the finest in  luxurious dining and posh and plush guest camping hospitality.

While I always encourage responsible ecotravel, Safari West and San Diego Zoo Global’s Safari Park (formerly known as the Wild Animal Park), make the East African safari adventure experience comfortable and affordable in California. They serve the needs of animal ambassadors in human care and their wild counterparts in nature. While no passport is needed, a camera is certainly a must-have.

Visit Safari West Wildlife Preserve (Santa Rosa, California) 


Dr. Jordan Carlton Schaul

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