Meet Chrissy, a precocious baboon who lives at a nonprofit called Animal Tracks, located near Agua Dulce. Chrissy is one of over 3 dozen exotic animals at Animal Tracks, including rare foxes, kangaroos, monkeys, porcupines, and an adorable armadillo. The animals come from a variety of sources, including people who purchase exotic animals but can’t take care of them, as well as from the movie industry.
Stacy Gunderson is the Executive Director of the organization and lives in a house right on the property with her husband and 2 kids. Stacy and her husband were involved in the animal training business for movies for years, but when her kids were young, Stacy decided to stay home and start up Animal Tracks.
“Our mission is to provide a safe, happy, and healthy home for exotic animals that cannot be returned to their natural habitats. We educate the public through guided tours and amazing up close animal experiences,” said Stacy.
Stacy needed help to grow the organization, and one of her Board members introduced her to Melanie Goodyear at Jericho Road Pasadena (JRP). Stacy needed a business plan for growing Animal Tracks, and JRP had a volunteer who would be a perfect fit.
Andy Eaton is semi-retired and he was looking for ways to give back. He met with Melanie who immediately recognized his value to a nonprofit. While Animal Tracks is located outside of the traditional geography, Andy agreed to go out and have an initial meeting with Stacy. Andy loved the passion Stacy and her team had for the work they were doing and wanted to help. “I was able to bring my kids and grandkids to Animal Tracks and we were able to interact with a lot of very cool animals,” said Andy. “It was inspiring, and I was able to write a business plan to help guide Animal Tracks over the next couple of years. It was a great learning experience for me.”
“My first recommendation was to improve the website to make it more user friendly, and I provided a few suggestions how to do that,” said Andy. “Next, I wanted to help identify specific things the organization needed to grow, and make it more accessible to the public.” For example, based on Andy’s recommendation, they purchased several new animal friendly cages and added a new parking area.
“I’m thrilled with the success of this project,” said Stacy. “I have a vision, but I needed help to make it happen. We are not business people and to get this level of expertise from Andy and JRP was truly a gift.”
Public tours at Animal Tracks are held every weekend and private tours are available by appointment. The highlight is the ‘Monkey Experience.’ It’s definitely worth checking out. http://animaltracksinc.org/tour-the-ranch/
And in case you are wondering, while JRP normally services nonprofits in the Pasadena area, Melanie loves kangaroos and made a special geographic exception.
Many thanks to volunteer Mark Rice for writing this article! Mark is a nonprofit marketing consultant, grant writer and website content manager.