The Business This 750-acre theme park -- which combines a drive-through game reserve with a re-created wild-West town and a Native American historic site -- is home to 3,000 animals, ranging from Arctic wolves and river buffalo to kangaroos and Egyptian geese. Visitors account for just over half of total revenues through sales of admission tickets (39%), souvenirs (5%), food (4%), and animal feed (3%). Catered corporate picnics and the recreational-vehicle (RV) parking lot each contribute 2%. But the single largest chunk of revenues -- 45% -- comes from sales of animals to breeders. The seller, who opened the gates in 1981, wants to retire.

Financial Summary 1991 1992 1993
Gross revenues $977,000 $979,000 $858,700

Recast earnings before $267,000 $340,800 $319,600

depreciation, interest, taxes,

and owner compensation

Price $2.85 million (owner financing with 35% down)

Outlook Over the past decade, the near-billion-dollar U.S. market for exotic wildlife has seen galloping growth. Animal breeders are betting on hordes of well-heeled baby boomers' buying up a few acres and filling them with -- what else? -- unusual pets. This park has a good breeding record with many of its critters; its coveted stock (of the 73 species, 18 are endangered) promises big bounty at auction. On the entertainment ledger, there should be ample regional demand for jungle getaways because the park is the only, uh, game in this Texas town. However, attendance has fallen, bruising overall revenues. So the seller has launched an aggressive marketing plan that calls for fewer interstate billboards and more direct mailings to schools, companies, and RV clubs. Observers spot other potential profit trails: a 300-seat saloon that, with the proper licensing, will attract more campers to the park's new-ish RV lot.

Price Rationale Add up the abundant assets: The grassy ranch land, tagged at $1,000 an acre, makes up $750,000; the fauna could fetch $1 million. Then there are tangibles such as the three homes (10 employees live on-site), 11 vehicles, park-maintenance equipment, 40 animal shelters, and a pavilion rigged to feed 1,200 people. The seller figures two times earnings, or $640,000, covers the park's ability to make money. Experts say a place like this could sell for 10 times earnings; at just under 9 times, it's a deal.

Pros Your chance to play Noah. Or Saint Francis of Assisi.

Cons Poop of many colors, certainly. Animal-rights activists, maybe. -- Karen E. Carney

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Inc. has no stake in the sale of the business featured. The magazine cannot confirm the accuracy of the financial or other information offered by the seller. Inquiries should be directed to Baehre Real Estate, 210-896-5050. n