Cheryll, on location, doing a shoot for Tippi Hedren meets up with her friend, Bella Shaw.
Together they visit Tippi and Leo the Lion. at the Shambala Animal Preserve in Acton, CA
Cheryll on Saturn’s moon looking for intelligent
life somewhere in the universe
TENT TIME with TIPPI
by Bella Shaw
Take a tip from Tippi Hedren and enjoy a chance of a lifetime
experience an overnight stay in her exotic tent at the Shambala wild
animal preserve in Acton, California! The age defying actress is offering the
exclusive getaway as a means to raise money for the Roar Foundation to
help defray costs of caring for her nearly 70 exotic animals, all rescued from uncertain and often dismal fates.
To help get her message across on the particular day I visited her, Tippi
began taping a series of promotional and public service announcements.
My anchor friend and former colleague from CNN, Cheryll Jones, serving as interviewer/host/producer, is also the common thread between all involved in today’s productions. Kansas City director/writer Scott Nelson, and LA cameraman Steve Schein, also donated their talents on this sweltering 100 degree day.
The lions, tigers, ligers and elephants, many abused, neglected and abandoned, have become a life force for this still svelte and stunning actress who reached international stardom in Alfred Hitchcock famous 1963 thriller, The Birds.
Although always an animal lover, it wasn’t until Hedren worked on location in Africa that she began to realize these beautiful, wild creatures were
diminishing rapidly. Later, after acquiring some lions to shoot the movie
ROAR, she learned first hand that these strong, possessive, and often
temperamental cats were better off in the wild, not as pets. Her dedication to their preservation resulted in her turning the ROAR movie location into the beautiful, exotic animal sanctuary, appropriately known as Shambala.
All of us sustained injuries shooting ROAR, I had a gash in the back of my
head. I don’t know whether the lion was trying to play or had full intent of
injuring me. An inch lower would have broken my neck and been fatal. I can still hear its teeth grinding,, Tippi says, moving her hand to her neck.
The terrifying incident made a point clearly as she relates emphatically,
These animals are predators not pets! That’s why we have a bill that would stop the illegal sale and breeding of these animals...the Shambala
Wild Animal Protection Act of 2000. If the bill passes, we won’t take these
animals away from people. We’ll just make sure they get a license and know how to treat them properly.
As the stylishly clad Tippi, in khaki stretch jeans and matching safari shirt,
gives Cheryll and me a tour of the premises, it’s clear each animal has a
name and special story. Leo, a regal 500-pound lion, for Â example, was
brought to the preserve in 1993 by one of Cheryll’s Kansas City friends who
rescued him from a home near Branson, Missouri, where he was being
dangerously kept as a pet. The good Samaritan, Terry Huffhines and his
son, Justin, nervously drove across country, 1500 miles, thirty hours
nonstop, with rambunctious Leo in the back seat of his car.
Leo the celebrity lion remembers Terry,
the friend who helped him find a unique
home at Shambala
The lion was graciously welcomed by Tippi, and has lived happily since in
the haven known as Shambala, which means in Sanskrit, a meeting place
of peace and harmony for all beings animal and human.
As fate would have it, he’s become a bit of a celebrity himself, receiving star billing as the official mascot for the Acton Lion’s Club and poster lion for the preserve.
Leo and the other lucky residents rely on Tippi and her devoted helpers
for their food and care. This includes invaluable assistant Marcia Newyear,volunteer Jenny Loomis and animal handlers Trudy Farley, Chris Gallucci,
Don Scott and Chui (pronounced Chewey)
The preserves expenses are enormous, costing nearly seventy-thousand dollars a month just to keep it running. Most of the money comes from grants, donations, and Tippi’s fundraising efforts
It’s amazing how many people think I’m rich,she says with exasperation.
I’ve never been paid as the head of this foundation. We’re constantly
working. My daughter (actress Melanie Griffith, married to actor Antonio
Banderas) helps me with fundraising but she’s busy with her own career,
children and various projects. She does help, but this just isn’t her thing
We’re constantly looking for grants. Lots of structures are twenty five years old or more. They need to be redone. Basically we need money she says passionately.
As Cheryll and I cross an old, narrow, rickety bridge, we spot the safari tent
with its curtain of beads glistening in the afternoon sun. The quarters are
plush, a decorators dream the ultimate safari fantasy. Among the
custom amenities, a comfortable feather down bed with mesh netting
canopy, leopard print linens and bathrobes. There’s even a shower stall in
the back, complete with designer toiletries. Needless to say, one does not
rough it spending a night here at Shambala.
Cheryll explores the luxuries of
Shambala "tenting",complete with
a stuffed, adoptable Shambala
As Tippi tells it, Our guests arrive at 4pm, and have a refreshing drink by
the koi pond or waterfall. We go for a walk, talk to the animals, and enjoy a lavish, gourmet dinner. At midnight, we go on a safari stroll to say
goodnight to all the animals.
In the morning, breakfast magically appears at your doorstep in a picnic basket, complete with a copy of the LA Times. It’s like going to Africa for half the price.... it’s a fabulous animal and nature lovers getaway.
Guests say the $2500 tax-deductible price tag is well worth it. They hug
me when they leave. They know how fortunate they were to have such
close, yet safe proximity (the animals are protected by a twelve foot
perimeter fence) to the animals. I like people to go away anxious to return.
Perhaps that’s why Tippi opted to live on the premises of the Acton
preserve, some 45 miles outside the glitz and glamour of Beverly Hills. It’s
so wonderful to look out the window and see these beautiful creatures, roar play or sleep. I feel very safe here. I love these animals more than my next breath..
Cheryll Jones Copyright © 2017
LITTLE LEO’S FIRST DAY AT SHAMBALA with JACK HANNA, ZOO LIFE VIDEO
Leo became the official mascot for the Acton Leo’s Little League team... and only known lion ever to have a membership in the Lion’s Club
He received an embossed plaque from the Lion’s Club acknowledging his special membership that hung over the entrance to his compound.
The Story of little Judah Leo’s trip to Shambala where he would live his life in paradise with the beautiful Tippi Hedren, Actress and Earth Angel extraordinare.
RETURN TO ASHEVILLE, NC 2018
COAST TO COAST AM HOST GEORGE NOORY