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   Charlie Sammut,
YouTube Charlie

Click left to view a YouTube video about Charlie.

Charlie Sammut-Bio

1961      Born -Dearborn, Michigan. I have a sister a year older and an identical twin brother. We lived in Michigan until 1965 at which time we moved to Redwood City, California where my Dad worked for Western Gear Company as a machinist. Dad worked double and triple shifts while Mom worked as a secretary to save enough money to one day open a motel in Salinas, California. In 1972, we moved to Salinas, California and built the Laurel Inn Motel & Restaurant which opened a year later.It was as "family run" as a business could be for we did it all !!! Office, laundry, maintenance, it was at that time I learned what it takes to create and maintain a new business - the Sammut technique - which is a bit tough at times but has never failed us.  

animals & charlie

                   Charlie & Friends

1978     Graduated from Palma High School - Salinas, California. Although I always had a need to have and be around animals, my Dad didn't always share this enthusiasm. It was my Mom who caved into it occasionally and it was she I must have received the anthropomorphic gene which often plaques me when dealing with my animals and the film industry in general. Our love for animals was, is and will no doubt always remain beyond our control.  It was at this time I moved out on my own which enabled me to begin an extensive and varied menagerie of pets. All were of a legal pet store nature, but exotic and unusual none the less. (Boas, pythons, sharks, parrots, alligators, as well as dogs, cats, rats, & horses)

1979 - 1980    Enrolled at Hartnell College - Salinas, California where I attended the Animal Health Technology Program with the intent of pursuing a career in Veterinary Medicine. During this time, I also worked full time at the Toro Park Veterinary Clinic.

1981 - 1985     In short, Mom & Dad's dreams skyrocketed. Their 54 unit Laurel Inn would eventually become 146 rooms with my sister Terry there to run it. To date, for two European immigrants from the Mediterranean island of Malta, Mom and Dad are the two most successful people I have ever known.  They define the words self made and successful. They taught me how to prove "there is nothing I cant do or have if I want it bad enough"!  My Brother George went on to run my dads second dream, the Forest Park Inn in Gilroy, California where George also bought into a restaurant franchise, The Black Bear Diner. As expected, George's success was no different than the rest of us and often calls upon my bear, "Brandi" for publicity stunts... Dad soon became a major developer in town having developed many restaurants, and even a shopping center and more important, allowing Mom to stop working.

And then, there's me.  For reasons I still don't fully understand, I decided to become a police officer. (I guess school life or the business world was  just a little too boring...)  I attended the Gavilan College West Coast Police Academy under the uniform of the Monterey County Sheriffs Department. Upon Graduation, I remained a deputy with M.C.S.O. for one year before transferring to the Seaside Police Department, a much more active department.

1985 - 1986    I bought Oxton Kennels, a dog and cat boarding facility as both an investment and a hobby. My intentions were for to run the kennel while I remained in police work. It was toward the end of this period that I adopted "Sam", an elderly cougar I found being held illegally in a garage in Seaside. The owners didn't want the animal any longer and I was able to obtain

leopard & charlie

Me & "Chui"

permits to adopt him. This was when a "hobby" started getting way out of hand...

The kennel business increased to a point that made going to work for someone else every day unbearable. I resigned as a police officer to help run the kennel and start an educational program called "Wild Things"with my exotic pets .

1986 - 1988  I was blessed with a son and a daughter (the human kind) from a previous marriage.  I  would have never guessed that there could be anything that could give me more to worry about or to be proud of than my animals - I was wrong.

My infatuation with Sam led to an attempt to acquire an even larger cat. I ordered a tiger through an animal broker I had met along the way (it was legal to do such stupid things back then) but when the cub arrived, it was a lion. Opting to keep the lion, the tiger arrived six months later...

1988 - Present    As lion led to tiger, tiger led to bears, bears to monkeys, monkeys to elephants... Eventually, that tiger tried to eat me but the lion, Josef, became my best friend, my star, and the single most important influence on my life that would change the course of my life forever. Impressed by his beauty and special temperament, a trainer in the film industry asked if I would allow Josef to participate in a Dryfus Fund commercial to be filmed at the Grand Canyon, Arizona. I was getting paid to play with my best friend in a warm sunny place. Josef was having a great time. All this excitement coupled with the financial reward was enough to lure anyone into the industry, as it did me.  "Wild Things" became "Wild Things Animal Rentals Inc."

Today, My little hobby has evolved into one of the most impressive private facilities on the West Coast. In 1994, we left our 5 acre rented property in North Salinas to move to the largest investment I have ever made, the beautiful 51 acre Vision Quest Ranch located in the sun belt between Monterey and Salinas. The new Oxton Kennels operates better than ever, a complete equestrian center has been added to further complicate my life.

lioness & charlie

Me and "Lady"

Wild Things A.R. Inc. now houses  100+ exotic animals ranging from spiders to African Elephants. We still maintain a full time educational program which touches thousands of children and adults annually. Our new B&B helps support our animals and allows us to share them with many more animal enthusiasts. We have dedicated the remainder of our land to our new nonprofit organization, EARS to help benefit elephants, my newest and truest passion.


On July 7th, 2008, Josef passed away and I was faced with continuing this project we started together, without him.

The dream remains the same, The players just change and/or grow older.

My hair is much shorter and a bit grayer but I still have huge plans for the future of Wild Things and Vision Quest Ranch that I feel will ultimately enhance the quality of life for the animals and the education they provide to the community. Plans that Josef and I made together. Plans that I promised him I would fulfill. Another promise to my very special friend that I intend to keep.

Kristi & Charlie cut out sml

Click here to meet other members of the Wild Things Staff...

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

call us at...  (800) 228-7382