Lee Crutchfield is on a mission to rescue animals in need. He currently holds a license for up to 500 animals, although Aloha Safari Zoo tops out at about 450. Lee works non-stop to provide animals a refuge where they can peacefully live out the remainder of their lives. Animals of various species, many of which are exotic, have found a sanctuary in an educational zoo that Crutchfield, his family and a small team of dedicated individuals have labored to create. The zoo is over 60-acres and opened to the public January 2010.
Lee is passionate about all of the animals; “I built everything you see, dug the ponds and all,” he says. The habitats are constructed at hurricane strength and accredited by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Every pen is also equipped with ultraviolet lighting, which helps to provide the animals with Vitamin D.
Caring for the animals is crucial, since many of them have been rescued from poor health and habitats. Three area veterinarians aid the zoo with medical care and health certificate exams. “It’s a unique opportunity and learning experience for the area’s children, families and schools. There are a lot of different species that most people would never have the opportunity to see,” says Brian Garrett, a veterinarian with the Animal Hospital of Fayetteville.
This working zoo is a true family affair. Crutchfield’s mother, father, and sister all have roles in the daily activities. “This is God’s gift to me. Every single day, I get to do the work I love,” says Crutchfield.