SARDIS CITY, Ala. – There are just under a dozen different types of wildlife currently on public display at Turk’s Bama Bucks restaurant and exotic animal park.
It is not everywhere diners can eat their meal just feet away from wildlife including deer, wildebeests, buffalo, camel, baby kangaroos, bears, and more.
“We’ve had probably about 75 different species of animals here on the farm. Some kind of come, some kind of go,” said owner Terry Turk.
The wildlife sanctuary has been in Etowah County for 25 years.
The restaurant opened two and a half years ago.
“We’re just all one big team and we work very well together,” added Turk.
Bama Bucks is permitted by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (ADCNR).
“Anybody who applies for a permit for a public display of captive wildlife, they have to take a test, they have to show experience in handling wildlife. We have rules and regulations set in place that requires them to have certain type of fencing, the way they care for animals, how many square footage an animal has to have in a particular cage,” said ADCNR wildlife coordinator Captain Michael East.
East said Bama Bucks is one of eight or nine public wildlife displays in the state.
Turk told News 19 that not only do they meet those requirements, but they exceed them with stronger gauge wire fencing and larger enclosures.
“We have different vets that come in and check our animals out all the time. The animals are very healthy, very well taken care of. For instance, the bears, they probably get to eat as well as any human being would because we have the restaurant. The availability of sirloin, ribeyes, filets, salmon, shrimp cakes. They get to eat what people leave on their plates behind,” Turk said.
Turk added they drain around 750 gallons of water from the pool in the bear enclosure and refill it each day.
Wildlife sanctuaries like Bama Bucks give the public the chance to get a once-in-a-lifetime chance to get close to the wildlife and learn about conservation.
“A lot of the animals you see in those captive environments, maybe they’re not suitable to be re-released in the wild for some reason or another,” explained East.
East told News 19 that if someone with a wildlife public display does not meet the requirements, they are given a limited amount of time to correct the issue. If they do not meet the requirements within that time limit, they have the authority to remove the animals and put them in a more suitable captivity location.
Click here for a full list of the ADCNR requirements for a public wildlife display.