In 1997 the Alabama Chapter of SCI established the first permanent Sensory Safari at the School for the Blind in Talladega, Alabama. The project received a great deal of publicity as it was honored in conjunction with the opening of the school’s new science building, home to the Sensory Safari. An avid hunter in Arizona donated the entire trophy collection to our chapter for the purpose.
The Sensory Safari at the School for the Blind is a spectacular display, and the Alabama Chapter decided to expand the project. In 2013 we took a major step in bringing attention to SCI and promoting humanitarian services with the completion of our new Mobile Sensory Safari. It will reach many more people in all walks of life.
To increase the exposure of the Mobile Sensory Safari, we had partnered with Alabama 4-H and the Alabama Wildlife Federation. Our chapter furnished the trailer and mounts, and 4-H agreed to warehouse the trailer and provide transportation for the trailer to different venues around the state.
In June, 2012 our chapter made the commitment by contracting with Big Tex Trailer Company to build a trailer to our specifications, which would include extra headroom, non-slip flooring, extra thick walls to support the mounts, and wheelchair accessibility for both front and rear doors. We had cabinets installed with much help from Dan Dimick and decals applied to the outside, thanks to help from Jim Smith. Our membership donated many fine mounts, skins, skulls, and antlers representing animals found in Alabama as well as the rest of the world. A surplus of mounts in storage will allow us to rotate specimens.
The first public showing of the trailer occurred on October 6, 2013 at the Tiger Cub Scout event at the Birmingham Zoo. Although it rained that day, spirits were not dampened as we had 848 visitors go through the Mobile Sensory Safari.
The Mobile Sensory Safari trailer will be displayed in2014 at Hueytown High School, Oak Grove High School, Oak Grove Elementary School, Von Braun Center in Huntsville, both Deer Expos in Birmingham, and the Buckmasters event in Montgomery. Requests are increasing as word spreads about the opportunity. We encourage members who have ¾ or 1 ton trucks with electric brake controllers to volunteer to transport the trailer when possible.
The Alabama Chapter’s Mobile Sensory Safari trailer is now featured on the cover of the new Sensory Safari brochure from SCI, and it is soon to be featured in a DVD that SCI is producing on how to build a mobile sensory safari.