Story of NGALA
NGALA was created by high school sweethearts, Donovan and Tammy Smith. The couple began buying acreage in East Naples, FL, shortly after graduating.
Donovan’s love for animals stems from his first pet turtle, given to him at 7 years old. After 14 years of handling and doing volunteer work with a variety of animals. Donovan began to acquire the necessary State and Federal permits required to obtain and display exotic animals.
Animals, mostly from unfortunate situations, began finding their way to the Smith’s property. The Smith’s needed a way to fund the care and expense associated with the tremendous maintenance of properly caring for these magnificent creatures. The couple found a way to do this while at the same time following their dreams!
The Smiths began educating the public through corporate and social functions in ballrooms. At first they displayed animals in cages. This evolved into “living arts displays”, complete with tropical foliage and authentic artifacts, enhanced with theatrical lighting. The Smiths found that this manner of exhibition to be much more dignified for the animals. This method gave much needed mental stimulation and enrichment to the creatures while educating the public and providing a great opportunity to discuss environmental conservation. The Smiths provided their unique product in this manner for over 15 years and 850 events - including such milestones as the “The Republican Governors Conference”!
The Smiths celebrated the birth of their son, Cody, in 1999, and realized that so many of their dreams had come true! With the addition of a child, life on the road became a little less appealing and new dreams took the place of old ones. They decided it was time to build a venue on their own property. With this new permanent venue they would be able to share their dream with large groups and still maintain a quality family life together close to home!
Using skills learned along the way and a lot of imagination, the Smiths built an elegant British colonial style tent and placed it among the natural landscape of their beloved Florida property. They added handmade teak furniture, African artifacts, and the now-famous “living arts displays” to create a venue that presents an extraordinary experience for all who are lucky enough to visit! This one-of-a-kind off-sit venue became known as “NGALA Private Reserve”. “Meetings South” Magazine’s Meeting Planner’s poll selected NGALA as “Off-sit Venue of the Year”!