So who are we, and why do we do what we do?!
Sam's Safaris was founded by Helen Duke (now Helen Wild!) in 2002 with the goal to educate by allowing both children and adults the chance to get first hand experience and have hands-on encounters with different species of animals.
Our mission is to educate about the natural behaviour, biology, habitats and diets of our exotic species, raise awareness of wildlife conservation and give everyone the chance to interact with animals that they may have never had the chance to see before.
We also aim to raise awareness of wild animals in captivity in order to improve the standards of care and reduce the large number of animals that are sent into rescues centres, or worse, abandoned, each year. By educating about the specialised requirements of exotic animals we hope to raise awareness that (although amazing) they can be difficult to keep, and some simply do not make good pets!
Helen Wild (A.k.a. Helen Duke.... A.k.a. 'Sam')
Helen (Sam) has been passionate about animals since she was a little girl, in fact her family will tell you that it is ALL she ever talked about, stroking, cuddling and learning about them at any opportunity! Helen was given the nickname 'Sam' by her family as she reminded them of the cartoon character Sammy the Seal by clapping when she was excited, and the name stuck. During her time in the army and, later, when working with EYFS children she would take in unwanted or neglected animals, resulting in quite a collection of rescue critters. Looking after the animals soon became a job in itself and Helen decided to use the opportunity to combine her passion for animals with her drive to educate others by allowing hands-on learning..... and so Sam's Safaris was born! She has since continued her plight to educate and has visited hundreds of schools, shows, colleges and care homes inspiring many others with her enthusiasm and knowledge.
Helen and Sam's Safaris now have a diverse and unusual array of around 40 different species, with around 80% of the animals being donated as unwanted pets, or rescue centres.
Simon 'The Fixer' Wild
Simon, as well as being Helen's (long-suffering) husband is an integral part of Sam's Safaris who has resigned himself to the ever growing collection of animals in his garden (and often in his house), as well as adding a few of his own! Simon grew up taking in injured animals and nursing them back to health and his compassion continues to this day. In between his role as chief enclosure builder and general fixer upper, he is often looking after injured birds of prey (and the occasional Wood Pigeon) as well as our resident birds, Spirit and Willow the barn owls.
Izzy just loves animals and she can usually be found with one in her pocket, on her shoulder or just following her around! Spending her childhood surrounded by as many as possible, she decided to do the same as an adult and completed a BSc. in Animal Behaviour and Training, before travelling around the world working with a number of different species and assisting on conservation projects. She is our resident trainer and, between, jetting off to foreign parts, she spends her time educating others about animals, snuggling with her dog Puca and is currently squeezing in studying for a Masters Degree.
Zara is our pony-mad zoologist who has spent her 'time off' from university studying for her degree, working as part of the Sam's Safari team. She has always enjoyed having fun with her animals, competing with her dogs and horses from a young age, and has more recently added a scaly addition to her animal family with Norberta, the bearded dragon. Zara has a particular interest in conservation and biodiversity which she is currently studying for her MSc. In her free time Zara enjoys reading fantasy novels and tea drinking ... preferably while sat on pony.
Adam started working for Sam's Safaris after completing his degree in Animal Management which added to his encyclopedic knowledge of all thing animal! He went on to work at Yorkshire Wildlife Park where he is now an animal ranger on the carnivore section, as well as having his own, less toothy, collection of unusual exotics to keep him on his toes. As if he isn't busy enough, he comes to help out on his days off... he just can't get enough! He's the one on the left by the way... OH NO... the right, definitely on the right!