Route 66 News

Exotic Animal Paradise will open under new name

According to a Marshfield (Mo.) Mail story posted today, the new owner of the land where the Exotic Animal Paradise once sat off Route 66 in Strafford is going to reopen the attraction as Animal Paradise Family Fun Park.

The planned reopening is April 1, despite a recent ice storm that damaged many of the park’s trees and cut power. The owner, Tony Oddo, has set up a Web site,, that promises to be updated with more information.

Oddo anticipates being granted licensure from the United States Department of Agriculture after having performed changes and updates on fences and gating structures according to the department’s suggestions.

“We’ve gutted and remodeled everything and we’re going like mad to get ‘paradise’ open,” said Oddo. “There’s just so much maintenance that we’re just busy, busy, busy.”

The park will include elements similar to the old park but will be revamped in the attempt to make the park a premier tourist destination in the region once again.

“It just needed a shave and a haircut and maybe a facelift,” said Oddo. “But it’ll soon be more like a carnival atmosphere and, I hate to say it, but maybe like Silver Dollar City but on a smaller scale.”

Animals will be making an appearance at the park later this month on a lease agreement from an owner in Buffalo and will include wildebeests, zebras, llamas, ostriches and monkeys. Large, wild cats such as lions and tigers will not be part of the park, at least for now.

Along with the famous drive-through animal park, there will also be a petting zoo, a go-cart track, an 18-hole miniature golf course with water hazards and waterfalls, craft and vendor booths, restaurants and more, the owner said. And, down the road, Oddo has plans for additional items to be integrated such as batting cages, bumper boats, an arcade and a Route 66 Sweet Shop. […]

The animal park will also be open for the first time to independent businesses to incorporate local professionals to participate in the reconstruction as caterers, gift vendors, crafters and more. Oddo hopes to add craftsmen such as glass blowers and silver jewelry makers, along with homemade candy shops and kettle corn concessions to the mix. […]

Oddo’s long-range vision for the location also includes hopes for gas stations, hotels, restaurants and more.

Much of the original Exotic Animal Paradise, which wasn’t profitable in its final years, was sold to make way for a luxury housing development, and the animals were auctioned. It had been reported late last summer that Oddo might reopen the animal park in some fashion. Now it looks like it’s going to happen.

The fact Oddo is trying to fix up the property and is trying to diversify its revenue sources makes me cautiously optimistic.


12 thoughts on “Exotic Animal Paradise will open under new name

  1. roseykrh

    I am so glad to hear this will be reopening as an animal park. I know that Exotic Animal Paradise did not get as much business as they would have like or needed, but I am hopeful that new ownership can attract new traffic. A lot of us “locals” loved it. I was there for the last weekend and was saddened to see how downhill the place seemed to have gotten – both structurally and with diminshed animal numbers.

    I can’t wait to see what it will become and I hope to be there during the opening.

  2. Nicki

    I have not been there in years however it was a GREAT place to go. I hope all goes well with the remodel and you get a lot of traffic. Anyone wanting to take their children is guaranteed a neat day!!!

  3. Kevin M

    Found this article and all your posts informative,thanks and please keep them coming.The new owners are a small growing company called Great American Family Parks .They are publicly traded under the symbol GFAM.ob.They own one other park Pine Mountain Wild Animal Safari located in Pine Mountain, Georgia,(near Atlanta). is the park website is the corporate website

    If anyone goes, an honest opinion would be welcome ,thanks Kevin.

  4. Erin of MN

    I went to Exotic Animal Paradise in 2002 but my pictures were ruined after the fact, can anyone out there help me? I’d appreicate any photos I can get my hands on or even help with the names of those strange moose-like animals that appeared on the shirts that said ‘I got slimed at Exotic Animal Paradise’.

    Thanks for any help!

  5. Wes Myers

    I have a old Case garden tractor that is painted very differently in the a black and white paint job to make it appear that’s it’s a zebra. I’m told this was from the old park and I’m looking for more information to confirm this. If there is anyone out there that comes across this comment that knows anything of this, please contact me at “e boy dog AT G mail dot com” (take the spaces out and use the regular @ sign and “.”)

  6. Jon Van Beber

    I worked out there in 2003. We put in the second largest Outdoor horshoe pitching park in the US. That’s what I was told anyway! Is it still there?

    1. Matt Armitage

      The horseshoe pits that were by the two wooden towers towards the old entrance are no longer there. The towers and stage area are all completely gone. At that time, that was the second largest pitching park in the country.

  7. Matt Armitage

    My name is Matt Armitage, and I am the son of the former owner of Exotic Animal Paradise, Ron Armitage. The park is open under new management, but the last time I visited they had changed the rules on the drive-thru quite a bit. I spent ten of the best years of my life working at the old park and falling in love with the animals there. I miss the old park more than anything. I will answer questions to the best of my knowledge/ability.

    1. abibiliophobia

      I liked seeing your comment Matt. I loved going to Exotic Animal Paradise when I was younger. Three trips from 1997-2000, so not while your dad owned it, but I adored the park. I’d always hoped to get back and am grateful to your dad for helping to keep it going.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: