Safe Haven & Educational Adventures, Inc. is a permanent refuge for rescued exotic wildlife that have either been abandoned, abused, lost their home through death of the owner, or found to be more than the owners can handle.
Many people fall in love with the beauty of a large bird, the intrigue of a reptile or even the playfulness of a monkey and then try to have that enjoyment in their own home. What they don’t realize until it’s too late is that this experience is not as enjoyable as they had expected. Either it’s too much work, too costly or the animal doesn’t behave as they had thought it would. These animals require a lot of special care and for that reason there are very few places that are willing to take them.
Safe Haven provides that high quality, stable, safe and permanent home for these animals. To provide the best care possible, we are governed by a board of directors and have close working relationships with local veterinarians. We take some of our animals, our experience and our knowledge into the community for an up-close educational encounter with children, young adults and adults. Our programs provide an understanding of the animal’s natural abilities and behaviors as well as responsible pet ownership, environmental issues, habitat diversity and endangered species. We are licensed by the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources. We are recognized by the IRS as a tax exempt 501 (c) (3) organization.
S. Nigel Platt was born in England where he grew up surrounded by nature and wildlife on National Trust estates and farms. He spent his teen years as a private breeder of reptiles while growing as an amateur herpetologist. He got his professional start at Cotswold Wildlife Park in Burford, England where he served as Reptile, Amphibian and Aquarium Curator for one of the United Kingdom’s leading animal institutions. As a curator of the third largest collection of reptiles in the UK, he was responsible for supervising the staff as well as establishing protocols for the safe handling and breeding programs of the animals in his care. In 1993 Nigel moved to the United States and took a job as a Herpetologist for the Toledo Zoo in Ohio. Three years later he took an advanced position as Animal Curator for the Mesker Park Zoo in Indiana. As Animal Curator he was responsible for the entire collection of animals and staff at the park. This included the coordination and training of an emergency response team as well as serving as liaison for the press and media.
Kim Chiswell has had a career path that has been perfectly suited for her role at the sanctuary. She has had a combination of zoological education and animal care experience throughout her career which is unique to most zoologists. Kim completed a BS in Chemistry from Quinnipiac College in Connecticut in 3 ½ years but decided to follow her lifelong dream of working with animals.
Kim’s professional career began in 1993 at a privately owned zoo while she was completing college. Here she had the unique experience of hand raising many animals including leopards, tigers, wolves and bears (among others). In addition to feeding, cleaning and providing enrichment for chimpanzees, orangutans, baboons and other primates, she also presented live animal stage presentations and gave guided group tours.
Nigel moved to the Greenville, SC area in 2000 to take the position of General Curator at the Greenville Zoo. Responsible for the animal collection, Nigel introduced 10 different endangered species, including the Amur Leopard and Orangutans to the zoo. He also served as advisor and liaison for the education department and as institutional representative for several multi institutional conservation projects. Nigel’s appreciation of wildlife has taken him outside the boundaries of the zoo world to the native forests and other ecosystems. He is expert at identification of native animals and plants and enjoys guiding nature tours.
In 2007 Nigel returned to England for an excellent opportunity to establish a fully functioning, teaching zoo for Reaseheath College in Nantwich, England. In his year and a half term he was responsible for setting up the entire zoological collection including exhibit design, strategic planning, animal protocols, emergency protocols and all licensing requirements. Once the zoo was up and running, Nigel returned to Greenville to establish Safe Haven with Kim Chiswell.
Nigel has provided lectures for Reaseheath College, Oxford University, The Royal Zoological Society of Scotland Veterinary Conference, Tri-County Veterinary Technician program and Furman University as well as leading a group of students on a teaching safari in South Africa. He has served as an accreditation inspector for The Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA). He has received a certificate of appreciation from Greenville County Enforcement Division for tutoring Animal Inspectors in the identification and safe handling of reptiles and from the Greenville Hospital System for teaching medical professionals about venomous bites and stings. As an Anti-Venin Index Coordinator for nearly 10 years, he had to be familiar with the location of all types of snake anti-venom and where they were located throughout the country. Nigel has served as a consultant for BBC (British Broadcasting Company) as an educational and scientific expert for wildlife documentaries and as an inspector for Her Majesty’s Custom & Excise in the United Kingdom. He has written numerous contributions to the Annual ASRA Journal of Herpetology in addition to “Reptile House Notes for Inspectors” and “Keeping Venomous Snakes”, both adopted by the Federation of British Zoological Gardens.
Nigel is also passionate about rugby and serves as both a coach and referee at the high school, collegiate and senior levels.
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In 1995, Kim set her sights on a new goal and moved to Florida to begin working for Walt Disney World ® Resorts. She started at Discovery Island ®, Disney’s original zoo, where she traveled by boat every day with the rest of the staff to an island that surrounded you with a tropical rainforest. Here she gained a deeper appreciation of birds and provided countless educational programs to kids of all ages. Later in her career at Disney, Kim was selected as one of Disney’s Animal Kingdom ® Theme Park opening team members. She started out learning the nutritional requirements for every animal in the park as well as preparing their daily diets. She later moved to an animal keeper position where she performed formal stage presentations as well as created individual guest interactions with the animals. She was not only responsible for the husbandry of the animals in her care but she also trained the animals for the presentations and conducted area inspections based on Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) and United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) guidelines. While at Disney, Kim completed courses in animal training and behavioral research and participated in management training.
Kim moved to North Carolina in 2000 to lead a team at the North Carolina Zoological Park. As a leader, she worked directly with other managers, curators and veterinarians and trained other staff members in animal husbandry, safety, animal training and the development of new educational programs. Kim moved to the Greenville area in 2001 to assist her father and brother in the start of their Engineering business. During that time, she began volunteering and consulting for the Greenville Zoo. She worked with the General Curator to establish a training program for their pair of orangutans and to teach the animal keepers proper training techniques. Kim worked with the Education Curator to run the docent (adult volunteer) program for many years. Safe Haven officially began in 2007 when Kim and S. Nigel Platt decided to turn a hobby and a dream into a reality. In order to help support the sanctuary, Kim works at Sunrise Animal Hospital in Taylors, SC as a veterinary assistant.