Antelopes, Zebras and Camels, Oh My!

by Troy Marcyes

2 min read

In May, Intuit reached the milestone of 2.2 million customers using QuickBooks® Online. I encourage you to read “Powering Small Business Prosperity in the “Global Village” by Sasan Goodarzi, executive vice president and general manager of Intuit’s Small Business Group, for more insight into celebrating our customers’ success. Here is another customer profile for you to learn more how a business benefits from QuickBooks.

For one finance employee, growing up on the family zoo made for a unique childhood.

For California-based Intuit employee Adam Sanders, visiting family in the eastern United States is like feeding time at the zoo. Literally. On one recent visit, his folks were bottle-feeding a lion cub in the house. Another time, it was a baby kangaroo and a monkey.

That’s because Sanders’ parents have an unusual family business – they run Promised Land Zoo. Located in Eagle Rock, Mo., it features a four-mile drive-through and petting zoo area, with over 500 animals representing more than 60 species.

“It’s never dull,” said Sanders, a Finance Rotational Development Program (RDP) employee currently based in Intuit’s San Francisco office. “It keeps things fresh.”

It all started after Sanders’ father, Jeff, sold his construction business in Chicago and moved the family to Missouri, where he and his wife, Diane, began buying chickens and ducks during their supposed retirement. Over time, their animal collection multiplied and became more exotic – lamas, antelopes, zebras, baboons, camels, hyenas, sloths, snakes, buffalo, monkeys, kangaroos and, more recently, the young lion.

“There’s a whole network of private breeders,” said Sanders, who was 10 years old at the time his parents started the venture, and helped with zoo chores with his four siblings. “Every day after school, we were in charge of feeding the animals and cleaning up after them.”

Raising Endangered Species

Today, Promised Land is humming along, with about 15 employees and 30,000 visitors a year. At roughly 1,000 acres in size, it’s no ordinary zoo. For starters, there are no cramped cages. The animals’ pens are spacious, with many roaming free on rolling, grassy terrain dotted with trees. During the region’s hot summer months, the animals are provided with a cool, shady refuge, and in the cold winter months, the more delicate species take shelter in warm barns, Sanders said.

A priority of the zoo is breeding endangered species, such as the Formosan sika deer, which at one point numbered less then 1,000 worldwide. Many such species end up at Promised Land after being unable to reproduce in more conventional zoos. In some cases, after animals successfully breed at Promised Land, their young are sold back to the originating zoo.

Promised Land also makes quite extensive use of technology, from inserting microchips into animals to website advertising, using QuickBooks® and Intuit® Payroll, and implementing a QuickBooks POS system.

So, did growing up surrounded by animals ever make Adam Sanders want to go into the zoo business full time? Apparently not. He joined Intuit’s RDP program straight out of college in 2011, completing rotations in Mountain View and San Diego before moving to San Francisco.

But, the family business seems to be doing fine without him. It’s so successful that Jeff and Diane Sanders are poised to open a second zoo – a foot safari, to be precise – in nearby Branson, Mo.

As for their retirement plans, let’s just say they’re on hold.

Watch a short video of the zoo below:

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