Walter, Coulter and Luke live together in harmony, no social distancing required. Given, they do have more than 40 acres to share with their friends and visitors who stop in. They have also been attendants at weddings, held court at corporate events and partied with Naples finest philanthropists.
Coulter is a giraffe, Walter is a white rhinoceros and Luke is a Eurasian eagle owl and they live at NGALA (pronounced n-yala) Wildlife Preserve in east Naples.
For Smith and his staff, protecting the animals in the preserve is always job one.
During the fires that skirted Naples in May and during those in 2017, Smith and his staff worked tirelessly to keep the animals safe. In 2017, he sustained severe burns while driving into the flames to protect the rhinoceros. This year, because of the pandemic, he had a pared down staff who banned together to help move animals to safety. Nobody was hurt as they moved 45 animals (plus snakes!) and brushed soot and ash off the animals as they acclimatized back to the preserve.
“Our venue is for hire by groups (for any occasion), that want a private, unique, and exciting location. It provides a fun yet dignified place to learn about wildlife while honoring the purpose of the event,” says Donovan Smith, NGALA’s Founder and Naples native. "Each special event provides the exclusive opportunity to encounter exotic wildlife combined with authentic entertainment and fine dining under our state-of-the-art luxury tents.”
NGALA can accommodate groups from 6 people to 1,200. It is an ideal venue to help make social distancing fun, as it is outdoors, open air with plenty of space to spread people out.
More than an event venue, NGALA Wildlife Preserve is dedicated to optimally caring for wildlife born into captivity with a mission is to preserve wildlife and provide people with a better understanding of the natural world by reconnecting them with nature.
The newest member of the NGALA family is Hades the Hyena. He joins a family that includes a zebra, leopard, alligator, serval, cobra, and other animals who call the preserve home. “He is the absolute most intelligent animal that I have ever worked with - in over 35 years of handling wildlife,” says Smith. “He is calm, gentle, and very family-oriented.”
NGALA also offers limited day tours and immersive experiences for small groups.
More information and photos at NGALA.net.