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"Josef "  was born on 8/1/86 at the West Coast Game Park in Bandon, Oregon. He came into Charlie's life in January of 1987 at the age of 5 months old. Little did Charlie know just how big an impact Josef would have on his life or his career.

Josef was in fact, the true founder of Wild Things for he was the sole reason to even start the company. Josef joined the film industry when there were very few male lions in it that were safe enough and able to achieve the wants and desires of the industry. He was and always will be, our  biggest STAR !!!  At 500 lbs. with an absolutely gorgeous extended mane, Josef worked full contact with children and adults alike. He also worked in close proximity to other animals. He was undisputedly, one of the Best and Safest working  male lions in the history of the industry! Trained behaviors included working completely loose in almost any environment, marks, stands, stays, lies down, snarls, A to B, rides, walks, runs, jumps , jumps over camera, and much  more! But his biggest and best trick of the trade was his patience and personality. He was safe and everyone/everything who had the opportunity to work with and near him felt safe. It was what made him so special.

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Some of Josef's credits included :  TV's Tarzan, The Lion King, Naked Gun 3, "George of the Jungle",  Meet the Deedles,  The Postman, MGM, Animal Planet's - Wild on the Set, BORN  FREE  the series,  Dreyfus fund, countless still photo appearances and allot more! 

In 2000,  per a promise Charlie made Josef on set many years earlier, Josef was completely retired from entertainment and allowed to enjoy his retirements at Wild Things. He went for his walks with Charlie, played loose on the ranch and visited with those lucky enough to be around when it was happening. Regardless of circumstances, Charlie turned down all commercial work for Josef in an attempt to keep a promise.

In 2006, Josef began truly showing the unfortunate signs of old age. His walks were shortened to accommodate his aching joints and his diet was enhanced with herbs and medications as needed to help him remain as comfortable as possible in his old age. Towards the end of June and into July of 2008, Josef's health was failing more and more requiring Charlie to hand feed and water him daily but his spirits seemed calm and relaxed. He was just old and in need of help, help Charlie was more than happy to provide an old friend and Josef seemed more than happy to receive from the same.

On July 7th, 2008, Charlie found Josef sleeping in the sun of his paddock as he normally did but this time, Josef wouldn't wake up. It was time and Charlie was faced with making the decision he had dreaded for so long. It was time to say good-bye to a best friend, a partner and a true soul mate.

Those who knew Josef well have all contacted us with the exact same message, "our lives were blessed and made better for having met such a special being."  In the industry, several company owners  have had special relationships with very special male  lions but no-one seems to  have ever had two in one lifetime. Charlie realizes this but he also realizes how many have never even had one and he feels truly blessed for having had Josef. Because Josef started Wild Things, it seemed only fitting that be buried at its entrance. Never before in the history of the ranch has it ever been completely closed to the public. On this day, the gates were closed, locked and manned by volunteers for the entire day. A beautiful memorial bench shaped like a sleeping male lion was placed next to Josef's grave where his friends, family and Charlie can sit and visit with him  for as Charlie has stated on several other such sad occasions, " We beleive ~  in another place, a better place, a place where I will join Josef and my many other friends who left before me ~ a place where we will be reunited and never separated again." Josef is and will always remain the logo and the signature of Wild Things and Vision Quest Ranch. His silhouette will never be removed from where we feel it belongs, on everything we do for animals. 

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We invite you to scroll down and remember how very special Josef was to all and we thank all who sent their heart felt condolences and thoughts. Please know that we sat on his bench and related all of them, to Josef, with love.

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400 River Road   Salinas, CA  93908      (831) 455-1901     Fax (831) 455-1902

call us at (800) 228-7382

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