The Meeks' family involvement with animals began in the 1940's on their farm in rural Spartanburg County. (In fact, the park is located on their original home-site, but includes the acquisition of a few surrounding properties). Their collection contained typical farm animals, such as goats, cows, chickens and horses. It soon grew to include South Carolina native species such as squirrels, opossums, foxes and raccoons. Early on, David Meeks, the youngest son in the family, showed an affinity for animals and a powerful talent to handle and understand them. “It just comes naturally to me,” he said. “I can read an animal’s body language with ease.”
This talent and affinity led to a fortuitous event in college, when David’s assigned roommate showed up with a monkey. After the monkey destroyed their dorm room, David made a deal with his roommate: Give me the monkey, and I’ll repair the room. The exchange was the first step, which led to the fulfillment of David’s childhood dream of being able to work with animals from around the world.
Steadily, species by species, the backyard menagerie grew. As more and more strangers were attracted to the yard, the Meeks decided to structure their property in a way for people to enjoy it. In 1970, father and son opened the M & M Zoo, housing deer, swans, monkeys, capybaras, tigers, pheasants, lions, ducks, bears and otters. Donna (1967-2007), the Asian elephant, still one of the most beloved animals ever at Hollywild, also found her adoptive home in their back yard. It is not often one is called to adopt an elephant!
Hollywild Animal Park is committed to providing an interactive and enlightening experience for our visitors, as we continually improve the lives of our animals in an enriching and respectful environment.