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2019 Top-Rated Nonprofit

Animal Park at the Conservators Center

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Animal-Related, Animals, Education, Wildlife Sanctuaries, Zoos & Aquariums

Mission: The Animal Park is a nonprofit zoological organization that operates under three core tenets: educating people, caring for animals, and advocating for species. The Park's animal residents serve as ambassadors for their wild counterparts: You are more likely to become invested in these species after you meet them and learn about their inherent value. Looking a tiger in the eye, hearing lions call to one another, howling with wolves, and meeting a binturong for the first time will forever change your perspective. You protect what you know.

Results: We provide permanent homes to dozens of exotic animals; we also provide an exotic animal husbandry internship for students around the country and the world; we reach thousands of visitors and program recipients each year; we've critically supported overseas conservation programs in Chile and Vietnam.

Target demographics: Wildlife and wildlife professionals

Direct beneficiaries per year: About 80 animals on site, about 16,000 visitors and program recipients, local and national government agencies who need assistance with emergency placements

Geographic areas served: United States

Programs: Educational tours and events for the general public. Internships for college students. Workshops and activities for wildlife professionals and educators. Collaboration with North Carolina State University Center for Veterinary Medicine's Carnivore Team to provide students with real-world learning experiences. Home for wild animals who need to move from their current situation—this includes retirement/rehoming from zoos and other facilities; owner surrender of a wild animal for which they cannot provide care; and assistance to authorities who have confiscated wild animals from inappropriate homes.

Community Stories

182 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

2

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

I would rate the Center even higher if I could. Positively MAGICAL! I go every year at least once a year (for my birthday) and shoot for more visits throughout the year. Go for the Twilight Tour-the nocturnal tours provide the opportunity to view most, if not all, of the animals alert and reactive. No tour is the same, the guides are SO knowledgeable (LOVE Kevin and Frank) and just take my word for it...when there's a dusting of stars in the sky, the lions are chuffing, and the wolves begin to howl...there's no place quite like it anywhere on Earth.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have been a volunteer at this organization for about three years now and I am seriously obsessed! On my first tour, I was moved to tears not only by the incredible experience of hearing wolves howl and lions "oof," but by the love and dedication of staff and volunteers and their touching relationships with the animals. It's pretty rare that you can go to a zoo and hear about every individual animal's favorite treats and unique personality quirks. By forming a personal connection with the animals and becoming educated about their species and wild counterparts, vistors (myself included!!) are empowered to love and conserve the world around them and protect endangered species and ecosystems. You can't leave this powerful place without feeling deeply enlightened and moved! The Conservators Center is wonderful organization that does amazing work and I cannot say enough good things about them

2

Donor

Rating: 5

This IS my happy place! ������������������

I’ve been involved with the Center for over 15 years. All of the staff and volunteers are truly incredible!

I cannot express what a privilege it has been to have watched these tigers and lion cubs grow into the amazing adult they are today! All of these animals mean the world to me and many others as well.

If you have never visited the Conservators Center, I highly recommend scheduling a tour. Trust me....you don’t want to miss out on this opportunity!

2

Volunteer

Rating: 5

My husband and I fell in love with the Center and its residents during our first visit as part of a tour. Came back for a special event, realized we wanted to be a bigger part of this place, and became a lifetime adopter to a gorgeous caracal. Then fell in love with the human "residents" (the amazing staff and volunteers), signed on to volunteer, and added a handsome lion to our lifetime adopter circle. All the animals are so loved and well cared for (many, if not most, are geriatric, so their care can be complex); it's an honor and a pleasure to spend time in their company. We learn something new about the animals, and each species' important role in our wider world, on every visit.

1

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

The Conservators Center is home to a plethora of exotic animals. The staff truly cares about each and every one of those residents and does an amazing job of sharing their passion for these critters and their wild counterparts with the public during their guided tours. If you want to learn about some amazing animals and have a renewed connection to wildlife, this is the place for you.

1

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

I have been going to the Conservators Center for years and it is a truly special organization. It is clear that the staff is knowledgeable and dedicated to helping these animals, and they are passionate about teaching visitors about the animals and conservation. I originally started going for the tours, but have come to love the special events like the pumpkin prowl and tree toss even more. This year, my husband and I are participating in a special program for the new wolf pups and it has been such a great experience to visit and learn about their growth every month. Overall, this is just a special place and I can’t say enough good things about the people who make it possible.

1 Annie M.5

Donor

Rating: 5

I was a lifetime adopter at The Conservative Center for many years. I so admire the dedication, love and care this facility and its staff have for these animals. I was able to develop a special bond with my tiger friend., Freya . She is no longer with us, but I am looking forward to many more years of continued engagement with the center.

1

Donor

Rating: 5

I have been involved with the Conservators Center for 20 years. This is one of the best non-profits of their kind. They take excellent care of the animals and go above and beyond to ensure the safely of the employees, visitors and the animals. They provide various enrichment items for the animals to keep them active and entertained. I have always been very pleased at how clean the animal enclosures are kept.

They offer a variety of tours and other programs that are suitable to all age groups. They also provide for individuals that have mobility issues.

1

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

I've been several times to the Conservators Center, and plan on many more! I've been on the a regular tour and a photo tour, both experiences were awesome! The staff is incredible, and make you feel appreciated and very welcome. The guides know the animals well, from where the animals came from to things they really like. Those details make a world of difference when going around and meeting these animals. There aren't many workplaces of any kind with staff that seem to mesh together and look out for each other like they do here. Not only do they care about having visitors and tours, but it is very evident they care just as much or even more for the animals.

Get on their site and book a tour, you will it regret it!

1 Nancye Hernsmith B.

Donor

Rating: 5

We adopt 3 animals at the center and it’s truly been an enriching experience in our lives. We tell all of our friends and family members about the center and as a result, several people have visited and made donations. We are thrilled to be part of the family!

3

Volunteer

Rating: 5

To be so close to a Lion or Tiger that you can almost feel its breath. To look down and see paws twice the size of your hands. To be standing so near that when the Lions are "oophing" ( not quite a roar) you can feel it in your chest. To learn that each of these animals have a name, have quirky habits, and an interesting story. All this while being accompanied through the park by a knowledgeable tour guide who can answer all your questions. One trip will not be enough, and each subsequent visit will be unique. For me these visits turned into a decade long adventure as a volunteer. It has changed my life and I have seen others affected likewise.

Previous Stories
1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have visited this place often. First time was life changing. Now I just need to go back to see old friends and maybe a couple of new ones. To see large cats so close and to hear them "oof" is something you will not experience anywhere else.

2 Alanna C.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

I worked for a short while in a small capacity for the Center. To say that the staff is passionate about their work would be a serious understatement. Everyone works so hard, and so many people donate their time simply because they LOVE it there. It is an amazing place to visit, and touring the site is a very unique experience compared to the average zoo! I will always recommend this place!!

1 Jordan M.3

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I fell in love with the Conservators Center on my first tour in 2013 and it’s only gotten better since then! Lions oofs are amazing each and every time! The animals are loved and cared for and the community of volunteers, donors, adopters, and visitors is unmatched. Truly a special place!

2

Client Served

Rating: 5

The staff and volunteers at the Conservators Center have genuine compassion for the animals in their care. The tour guides are well versed in each species that resides there and the animals seem truly happy, there's no pacing/panting/behaviors that indicate they are stressed out. We take every out of town guest who visits us to the animal park and each has expressed how much they enjoy it, so much more than your state run zoo. Bonus is the binturongs which I had never heard of before visiting!

Previous Stories
2

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

Every visit to Conservators Center has been an amazing experience. My husband and I have taken every tour offered there, and each has it's own special charm with new and interesting information from each tour guide we've had. I like that there is not a scripted tour speech they follow so you can take the same tour multiple times with different guides and learn new things each time. The animals are calm and seem well adjusted to captive life, in fact most seem downright spoiled here! The love and care put into each animal and it's well being is definitely obvious. Kudos to all at Conservators Center for keeping these animals healthy, safe and most of all happy!

3

Client Served

Rating: 5

We have only made it to one event Lions, Tigers, and Beer. Timing only allowed for a short tour, but it was enough for us to want to adopt a couple animals and will be returning soon to get the entire experience. Thank you for taking such good care of our furry friends!

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Best place in central NC. People are great, animals are great and it is a great educational experience.

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

A truly unique place and experience. I am honored to be a small part of this wonderful place!

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I first visited The Conservators Center back in 2004 and was immediately hooked. Ever since that day, I've volunteered there every weekend I am able to. Everyone at the Conservators Center - owners, staff, volunteers - puts the welfare and happiness of the animals 1st. I have "adopted" 2 animals and it makes me happy that I am contributing to their well-being and that they know me when I am there. It is so wonderful to get to know the animals - and to hear the lions "oooph" (that's conversational roaring) and the wolves howling is incredible. All these years later I stop what I'm doing to listen. It's still a thrill that brings a smile to my face each time. Every time my family visits from out of town they ask to come out to the Conservators Center and each of them has a different favorite animal. My nephew's 5-yr old daughter is currently in love with Muraco bobcat; she sponsors him (thanks to mom and dad) and sends him (appropriate) gifts from California.

1 thewb

Volunteer

Rating: 5

An amazing place with well-cared-for animals that you can get to meet up close and learn so much more about than at a typical zoological facility. A great place to visit for adults, kids and everyone in between, with walking tours from 45 minutes to two hours. Anyone who loves animals should visit!

Previous Stories
3

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have learned so much by volunteering at this wonderful place. The entire staff is welcoming, friendly and extremely knowledgeable, with an unparalleled love for the animals in their care. The facilities are well-kept and the animals are obviously happy in their environments. I particularly love the experience of seeing first-time visitors' faces when they hear lions "oof," and their joy and wonder watching binturongs, an animal they most likely have never seen before. This place has changed my life for the better and I'd like to believe it does for almost everyone who visits or volunteers.

1 Terri Fulcher L.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

My daughter and I came for a tour in 2010. I never left. We became volunteers together. She interned with the Conservators' Center before college. Over the years, I have moved from animal care to tour guide. The animals are such a joy to be around. The people are just an added bonus!

1 gtkach

Donor

Rating: 5

Amazing organization, where the animals truly come first!!

Previous Stories
1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have been a volunteer and friend of the founders of the Conservators' Center from the beginning days. I have had the unique opportunity to watch them grow from only a couple of rescues to the amazing organization that has given over 100 exotic animals not only shelter (often the only available second chance at life) but a loving environment with proper care and lots of love & enrichment.

Over the years I've helped with direct animal care, feeding the animals & cleaning cages, socializing young & new animals, clearing brush, construction, cage enrichment, tours, training new volunteers & interns, and assisting with fund-raising events! As you can see, the volunteer opportunities at CCI and the rewards of volunteering with these incredible animals AND equally amazing people are endless. You will fall in love with the individual animals and their stories, and you can't help but learn from the knowledgeable, passionate staff.

If you don't have the time to volunteer, I highly recommend at least scheduling a tour to see these majestic creatures in person. We offer several kinds of fun tours- basic, twilight, photography, shadow the keeper and treat enrichment! After visiting, you will see that the animals come first and all donations, every penny, truly does go into the care and happiness of these beautiful animals.

If you fall in love with a specific animal you can even adopt them...while you can't take your animal home, you can learn how to appropriately build a relationship with your animal. There are animals that even recognize the sound of their adoptive parents cars!! It's an amazing opportunity. Make sure to ask about adoption opportunities when you tour!

Although my life is crazy full with juggling a full time job, my own mini-zoo at home, and being a NC Wildlife Rehabilitator, you will find me volunteering most every Saturday out at the Center. I'm truly blessed to be a part of the Conservators' Center.

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I heard about the Center from some ladies at work. I was trying to find a place for my family and I to entertain ourselves while they were visiting me. That was about 3 years ago. I was so enamored by the animals, the staff, the place itself that I decided to become a lifetime adopter. I began my weekly visits to see Miss Annika and decided that this was not enough! I am now a volunteer AND lifetime adopter to my beautiful Eurasian Lynx. I found my happy place and plan on spending even more time at the Center when I finally retire. 5 Star's is just not enough to express my gratitude for all that I have learned and love from this place

1 Disa P.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Most zoological parks offer a visually entertaining experience. This place is so much more. You don't just see a lion, you meet Ra or Willow or Katrina...or some of the others. You learn about their species AND you learn about that particular animal. You observe the relationship these animals have with those that care for them. It's personal, it's intimate, it's educational, and it's so much more memorable because you don't just remember what you saw - you remember how it made you feel. After attending several times as a guest I knew I wanted to be a volunteer. After becoming a volunteer and developing a relationship with a special animal, I became a Lifetime Adopter. I

Previous Stories
2

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

I first visited the Conservator's center over a year ago. I fell in love! I love the animals, their stories, and the way the animal's care comes first! Many of these animals have some sad stories. Most are geriatric. Seeing them being cared for & living out their golden years surrounded by love is a very humbling experience. You get to observe these animals up close. You not only hear the lions oofing or wolves howling or singing dogs singing... You FEEL it. It's something you have to experience. I've brought several people to go on tours & one of them now volunteers there. I find myself trying to find different ways I can help the center because I believe in their mission & that seems to be the effect the center has on people.

1 Whitney Perry P.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

Wonderful time with family visiting the animals at this zoo! My kids, age 8, 4, and 2, really enjoyed the Whisker and Tails tour. It was long enough to learn cool facts, but short enough to keep their attention and end before they lost interest. We love this place, and the animals are so awesome to see and interact with.

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

The Conservators Center is a wonderful organization and place. The animals and their welfare are top priority, and the leadership and staff understand that education is a vital part of ensuring animal welfare and species preservation. Whether you're visiting, volunteering, or donating, you know you are a valued member of the community and have a role to play in their mission of caring for animals, educating people, and advocating for species.

1 Jordyn W.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

The conservators center is a beautiful place that really cares for their animals and their community.

Previous Stories
1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

The conservators center is where my heart is at. Between the animals, and the people this place is a joy to be at every weekend. The animals are #1 priority and are treated so kindly.

2 Kim_154

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I've volunteered with Conservators Center for 13 years. I came to learn and help some beautiful animals. i stayed because I discovered not only happy, well-cared-for animals, but also founders and staff with a genuine dedication to responsibility, ethical decision-making, and educational and industry-level impact. Conservators Center does all of these things -- *and* has beautiful, charismatic animals ... *and* an education and advocacy mission. What's not to love and be proud of?

The Center has regular tours to see and learn about big cats, wolves, and species that may not be as famous but are immensely cool in their own right. They host special events like Tree Toss (animal enrichment and celebration), Lions, Tigers & Beer (animals and local chefs and breweries), a Halloween storytelling experience in the dark, as well as events for scout groups, school field trips, and partnerships with our nearby University. This place has something for everyone -- and is still looking to grow and improve in ways that benefit both animals and visitors. I can't recommend it enough!

Previous Stories
4

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I've spent thousands of hours over the last 7 years volunteering in all areas at this amazing Center, working behind the scenes in animal care, building secure habitats, raising young animals, and leading public tours. My husband and I began volunteering because we love animals, but we stayed because we saw how incredibly HAPPY the animals are in their lives here, how KNOWLEDGEABLE the founders and staff are about all aspects of captive management and larger conservation issues, and how ETHICAL the business and care practices are at all levels. This is a truly special place. So many reviews mention the passion, the respect and care, and the beautiful relationships that they see when on tour. Speaking from the inside, all of this is very real -- a reflection of the heart of the Center. I'm so happy it's visible to visitors; I'm even more honored to have been a part of it for such a long time.

1 Van Greer W.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

Fantastic organization! This staff has nothing but care and devotion to their animal residents. Fun and educational environment!

1

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

The Conservators Center is a truly remarkable place. The staff and volunteers clearly devote their all to the care of the animals who live there. The tours are informative and entertaining, and the events are always a blast!

1 Jo Page S.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I've never visited anywhere quite like the Conservators Center. Of course, that animals are the main attraction, but the people are the heart & soul of the organization. In spite of devastating losses they have suffered in the past 6 months, they remain dedicated to the care & well-being of the animals, and the safety, education & enjoyment of every visitor who walks the tour path. I've never taken a tour that I didn't learn something new, & thrill to the "oofs" of the lions calling each other. If you've never witnessed that in person, you haven't lived! The animals there are mostly refugees from closed facilities & failed adoptions (why do people think they can actually keep a serval in their home?) & I'm thankful the Conservators Center staff spend their lives caring for animals that would otherwise have no future.

2 Alain M.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

This animal center is absolutely wonderful ! Visitors can see all the animals up close, while staying very safe and without disturbing those awesome animals. The lions and tigers can run, climb, relax and behave as they see fit in a natural environment.

This is not easy to accomplish and the center did a masterful job at it

Keep up the good work, I shall return

1

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

I am not sure where to begin. My family and I made the trip to the Conservators Center and we of course were excited to see animals. Seeing animals is only a small portion of the experience provided by the center. The knowledge and kindness of all of those who work and or volunteer there can be felt as you visit. The animals care and safety are clearly number one for everyone there. The bond with the animals is a joy to see. Visiting the center made me want to move closer to it to be a part of the family. We are already planning our next visit.

1

Client Served

Rating: 5

My husband and I first visited the Conservators Center shortly after we moved to the area. Friends had recommended it so highly, we were excited to check it out. The experience did not let us down! It was nothing short of incredible to be so close and personal with such magnificent animals. We enjoyed all parts of the tour, from the animals to the stories the staff told. It was such a wonderful experience, we now share it with our family and friends whenever they come to visit. Everyone always leaves thoroughly impressed! We can't wait for our next visits.

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Great experience with the animals and staff! I highly recommend for anyone who loves big cats or wants to get involved in animal husbandry!

1

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

After several visits to the Center and taking many, many great photographs, I highly recommend a visit there ! You won't regret it.

2

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

My husband and I were taken to this center by some friends who are adopters/volunteers. We loved the experience! We saw some species that we had never seen before in person--a couple we had never even heard of. So cool! I was amazed how close we were to the animals which helps to truly get to know them through observation. The grounds were very well taken care of, the pens felt appropriately sized and thoughtfully created and located, and the animals seemed relaxed. I would recommend a stop to this center to anyone!