The Adventure: The Art of Earning One’s Stripes


Rod Shipley grew up in a military family, living in Japan, Germany, and the US before attending college in Maryland. When an athletic injury forced him to drop classes, leaving him open for the military draft, he joined the USMCR stationed in the Washington Navy Yard. In addition to his five years working with exotic animals, he also became a porcelain potter and a golf course superintendent.
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Adventures are often best when they aren’t planned. At least that’s been the case for Rod Shipley. Just released from the Marine Corps and studying geomorphology in college, Rod never dreams of working with exotic animals. He just needs a job. So when he sees an employment ad at a local drive-thru safari park, he thinks, why not?
Little does he realize how this random decision will forever alter his life.

He is hired and soon discovers that the safari park is not just a park for tourists. It is the largest importer/exporter of exotic animals in the world, and he is enlisted to help care for more than two hundred animals waiting to be shipped overseas. A youth with no experience, Rod learns from the ground up how to endure all the bumps, cuts, and bruises that come with working with rhinos, elephants, chimps, bears, and big cats.

The Adventure: The Art of Earning One’s Stripes details Rod’s exciting adventures raising a baby rhino, training and working with a pride of lions for a Hollywood movie, battling floods to save animals, escorting animals for overseas shipping, developing a reptile show, and more — all accompanied with extensive and colorful photographs. After five years on the job, Rod is transformed from a scatterbrained youth to a well-disciplined and focused wildlife ranger.


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