It all began 50 years ago when the San Diego Zoo Safari Park opened its doors. While festive music played and Safari Park team members and entertainers welcomed guests, an unsuspecting visitor, 10-year-old Ethan Kemerling, and his parents, Stacy and Eric, were greeted by Lisa Peterson, the Safari Park’s executive director. Peterson informed Ethan that he was the 50th guest to enter the Safari Park, and presented him with an oversized San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance lifetime membership card. This surprise gift allows Ethan, who lives in Fargo, North Dakota, to have unlimited visits to the Safari Park and the San Diego Zoo, where he can explore and connect with wildlife for years to come.
“As we celebrate the Safari Park’s 50-year anniversary, it is my honor to welcome all of our guests today—and give special recognition to Ethan, our 50th guest entering the Park this morning,” said Peterson. “We have an amazing day planned for him and his parents. We believe an encounter with wildlife can transform a child’s dreams into a passion for changing the lives of endangered animals, and we hope this special day of memory-making moments does just that for Ethan.”
“At the Safari Park, we bring people closer to wildlife than most people can imagine,” said Peterson. “At any moment, guests can experience something truly life changing—and our hope is these life-changing moments instill a passion in each person to want to change the lives of endangered wildlife and their native habitats." He continued, “The Park’s golden anniversary not only provides an opportunity to reflect on the last 50 years of impact created by the Safari Park, but also is a time to look ahead and see what the future can be: a place where science and biotechnology work seamlessly with world-class wildlife care, along with empathy, hope and the desire for a world where all life thrives.” He concluded, “Entering the second half-century, the outlook couldn’t be brighter."