SANTA ROSA, Calif. (KRON) – It is a Bay Area treasure — Safari West in Santa Rosa had to close down operations when the Glass Fire erupted nine days ago.   

The preserve is located just outside the evacuation zones.

On Tuesday though, as the fire is now 50 percent contained and evacuation orders continue to be downgraded, the preserve was able to safely reopen.

“It’s a great afternoon, we’re open!” 

Eager to greet guests once again, executive director of Safari West Keo Hornbostel says the last week was a bit touch and go after the Glass Fire forced evacuations and road closures leading to the preserve.

“It basically forced us to close down, and just out of sheer prudence because of the smoke levels we had, we kept it closed through this last weekend, but we opened up tents last night and all of our tours are going strong today,” Hornbostel said.

The preserve is home to 98 different species and nearly a thousand animals. Keo says staff stayed on the property throughout the week. 

“Our animal staff stayed on site the whole time we had vets here to monitor the animals health and they did fine. During these smoke events, they become a little more lethargic, but they’re fine and the vets gave us a clean bill of health. It’s funny our animals stay lethargic when there’s no guests here but they get very excited when they see the trucks roll through,” Hornbostel said.

Safari West nearly sold out excursions during Tuesday’s return.

The preserve does drills just about every month just to keep themselves prepared for potential wildfires.

They say they link up with Cal Fire regularly too to make sure all of their efforts to keep the property safe are up to date. 

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