13th March 2010
I was born in 1963 to Ralph Helfer and Toni Scott also known as Toni Ringo Helfer. If you have read my Mum’s book, Gentle Jungle you will get to know the whole story of how I came in to this beautiful world. But my story begins from early childhood stories and pictures and then my own memories kick in.
I was brought home to our little cabin, which was at a bottom of hill in Soledad Canyon across from our ranch, which was Called Africa U.S.A. Some of you may remember this company name as it was world renowned for being the largest exotic Animal compound in America and my Dad was renowned for revolutionizing the motion picture industry with exotic animals by creating, what the pressed called ‘Affection Training’. Some of you may even remember our tv shows Daktari, Gentle Ben, Cowboy in Africa, Flipper, Beast Master, Any Which Way you Can, Savage Harvest and about 4000 more combined motion pictures, tv series, commercial and print work.
By the time I was born the only thing my mum had ever raised was her pet dogs, and my Dad had raised everything but a human child, I am sure this intrigued him and why I got deemed the tester child jokingly of course, but called Mogley the girl child. He believed because he was so successful in raising all his amazing creatures that adding a human child to the bunch would work out just fine. It did.
I literally shared my crib with orangutan babies and chimp babies, hence my amazing flexibility and wrestling skills were learned at a very young age, Later in life this didn’t help me with the boys, but made my dad feel much better. Zamba who was better known to me as my God Father lived in the house with us, all 550lbs of masculine full mane Zambian Lion. He was the most gracious, gentlest of souls and we loved each other dearly. Needless to say no one could just approach me with out his permission. My Dad was an avid snake lover, which explained the wooden coffin in the house where Astaroth my dads 18ft python resided.
At the ranch were not only animals, but the unforgettable trainers, also known as wranglers. And some even known as x-cons, Vietnam vets and actress that couldn’t find work. Does this help in setting up the world I was born in to? I LOVED EVERY MOMENT. I ran around topless, but had to wear shorts or pants, I had curly blond hair, big blue eyes and could hang with the best of them. The people and the animals were truly a Jungle Book life and nothing about it was ‘real’ life to anyone I ever met on the outside, yet it was the closest to heaven I could imagine. Literally.
When my parents were working I was left in the nursery with all the other babies animals, we grew up together. They grew much faster then I did and moved out of the nursery long before me! When I was finally up and walking that was when I got to play in the arena with all other babies, all mixed in together, leopard babies, lions babies, tiger babies, cougar babies, bear babies and so on! We had a blast together, although it would be years before I got the upper hand, I endured years of having my tackies (sneakers) torn off and chewed, my pants torn from wrestling around, but I learned everything from my animal family, especially how to be a better HUMAN.
More to come…
How have your animals influenced your life? I would like to know.
If you are interested you can click on my side bar and see My Dad’s book’s Modoc and Zamba and Mum’s Book Gentle Jungle, Both International best sellers. Learn more about the family history.
I am trying to get someone in the states to scan the cover of my book to upload, so coming soon the out of print WHEN YOU FIGHT THE TIGER.