MANY people dream of a large block of land and plenty of animals.
With more than 160 animals living on 10 acres, Halls Gap Zoo owners Greg and Yvonne Culell have lived that dream for nine years - and now they're saying goodbye.
The pair have sold the property, animals included, to Hamish and Tehree Gordon of Jirrahlinga Koala and Wildlife Sanctuary for an undisclosed amount.
Mr and Mrs Gordon will officially take over operations on August 19.
Mr Culell said the pair have been fielding inquires for years, but decided last September to give up the zoo in exchange for a Drouin cattle farm and more time with their seven children and eight grandchildren.
“We’re really hopeful for the zoo’s future,” he said.
“We’ve built it to the stage where it’s in a good position but there’s still things to achieve and improve.
“The new owners are looking for the next challenge in their life.”
However, the pair were not willing to simply sell to the highest bidder, but were determined the zoo and their beloved furry, scaly and feathered friends remain in loving hands.
“The reason we were keen to sell to these people and not to others is that we believe they will run it along the same belief structure as us,” he said.
“It’s animals first, community second and that’s the priority.
“We could have sold to corporations for a lot more money but we felt the zoo would become about the money. That’s now what we wanted.”
Mr Culell said he and Yvonne are proud of all they have achieved since taking over in 2007.
“It’s a bit of history,” he said. “It was a bit tired when we bought it.
“It was getting about 12,000 to 15,000 people through the door a year. That turnover has increased 10-fold and we’d see about 80,000 a year now.”
Mr Culell said he’ll be glad to say goodbye to the long hours, but not the zoo or favourite dingoes.
“When you think about it, it’s been quite an amazing journey,” he said. “We’ve got a soft spot for all the animals but both of us favour the dingoes.
“To tame them they need to be humanised so they live in the house with us for four months as pups.
“They’re incredibly destructive, we often had to rake our lounge room floor before vacuuming.
“Certainly we will miss them.”