Zoo director leaving post for a more exotic one!

RACINE (WITI) -- Zoo Director, Jay Christie plans to call it quits at the Racine Zoo to pursue another one! In the process, he'll be bringing something brand new to the Badger state.

The minute you meet Jay Christie, your first impression is that he's a real life zoological version of Indiana Jones.

"So there's been a zoo in Racine since 1923 but it didn't move here until 1925," said Christie.

Known as "Jungle Jay" he looks every bit the part, but when asked where the nickname came from:

"I don't know if I remember what the story is," Christie said.

Jungle Jay has been at the helm of the Racine Zoological Society for the past 16 years, but in a little more than a week, he'll be departing the zoo for his next big adventure.

"This is by far the largest market that's not currently served by one," Christie said.

He plans to open the state's first safari park by June of next year.

"It's a much more immersed experience in fact because virtually all the time the guest is sharing the same space as the animals," said Christie.

When thinking of safari animals, rhinos and giraffes may pop into your head first, but that's not the case in the works for the new safari zoo.

"It's a misconception that it would be exclusively African animals, although there would be some, but in reality there would be animals representing probably six continents," Christie said.

FOX6 News spent Thursday, September 25th tooling around the Racine Zoo grounds with Jungle Jay, he says starting a safari park has been a dream of his for more than three decades.

"It was childhood visits to a safari park in Cambridge, Ontario and it just occurred to me that this was an exceptional way to exhibit and maintain animals," Christie said.

Jungle Jay says he'll miss the Racine Zoo -- but he's taking the nickname with him.

"Fortunately it's not trademarked by the zoological society, so Jungle Jay will live on," Christie said.

Christie tells FOX6 News the park will be somewhere in Southeastern Wisconsin. We also wanted to know: Where do you even get the animals needed to start a safari park? Christie says zoos usually get their animals from other zoos, but that in the case of a safari park, they'll be relying more on domestic suppliers of alternative livestock.