Our Old Bunkhouse given new life
Too often, the bunkhouse at Woolaroc sat empty. Yes, it was a popular place for guests due to the restrooms (as our docents will confirm), but except for the occasional traveling display, it was a place to enjoy a good book and nap after lunch. Well, that has changed!
Sam Daniel's Waterfowl collection
Two years ago, a noted Tulsa attorney by the name of Sam Daniel reached out to Woolaroc with an idea. During his lifetime, he had put together an incredible collection of North American waterfowl. In fact, he had 43 out of the 44 known species, and now Sam wondered if Woolaroc would be interested in having his collection. A trip to Tulsa did two things: (1) we fell in love with his collection and (2) we fell in love with Sam and his wife Mary Lou.
In addition to the collection, Sam had written a book logically titled The Last Duck, a book in which he shared many of his stories about his adventures over the years putting together this collection.
We knew we wanted this terrific collection, but we had to decide where it would call home; there was no space in the museum or the lodge to display them, but the bunkhouse seemed to be a logical location. Our only problem was that the building was too large for just the ducks, we needed something else to share the space.
The Dixon's Big Game collection
Call it luck or good fortune, we were then contacted by the Dixon family from Tulsa, asking if we would be interested in them donating their father’s African big game collection to Woolaroc? The Dixon collection included a 16-foot Nile crocodile, an African lion, leopard, and baboon.
A team of Museum Director Shiloh Thurman and our carpenters, Tim Sydebotham and Chris Buchanan, started developing plans as to how to convert this plain, rectangular box into a new exhibit with two galleries. The transformation was nothing less than incredible, with stained wood, LED lighting, landscaping, woods and rocks, and the walls covered with wildlife scenes from the African Serengeti to the lakes of North America.
An exhibit Frank Phillips would have loved
The exhibit opened to the public on July 11, 2018 and the response from our guests has been incredible. Frank Phillips Foundation CEO Bob Fraser said, “as we always try to do, we weighed the decision to create these new exhibits against our 3 mission points: (1) does it preserve the history of the west (2) does it educate and (3) does it entertain? Not only did we feel it was a good fit, we also thought it was something that our founder Frank Phillips would have loved. He was always collecting exotic animals and bringing them to live at the ranch, so this exhibit made perfect sense to us.”
Open every day!
The new permanent exhibit is open every day that Woolaroc is open, so be sure to stop by and see this new addition to the “magic.” Sam’s book (The Last Duck) is available for purchase in the Woolaroc gift shop and 100% of the proceeds remains at Woolaroc.