Building Safari Niagara

The seed for Safari Niagara was planted by the late Stephen J. Tykolis, who moved his family of seven children to Stevensville from Welland in the 1950s.

Upon retirement in 1990 from his family businesses, Stevensville Lawn Service and Stevensville Garden Gallery, “Papa Steve” began a small hobby farm of domestic animals, which he enjoyed sharing with family and friends.

After his death in 1992, three of Papa Steve’s children, Terry, Marianne and Tim, were left in charge of business operations and, as a tribute to their dad, constructed a small-scale public zoo of the cherished feathered and furry friends inside the garden centre. Visitors loved seeing the animals and birds up close, which inspired the acquisition of more species, including more exotic species such as primates and reptiles. The little zoo also became somewhat of a sanctuary for exotic species whose owners could no longer care for them. In seeing the interest and excitement the little zoo was creating, it wasn’t long before a hobby farm of larger animals began inhabiting the parcel of land behind the garden centre.

The population and variety of animals “out back” slowly grew into a full-fledged zoological facility, which remained private while the Tykolis family worked with a professional development team to create a master plan for the facility to be constructed in phases. The first phase was completed and culminated in the grand opening of “ZOOZ” on May 18, 2002.

The year 2009 marked the beginning of a new era for the facility as it evolved into “Safari Niagara”. It was a new dawn of opportunities for future expansion, which has included more educational exhibits, updated and new animal environments, new exciting activities, and amenities, including food and concessions.Safari Niagara has been and will continue to be  a wonderful destination for children of all ages and abilities to get “up close” to more than 1000 animal species while enjoying time outdoors with family and friends. The park is completely interactive with free educational animal shows & tours, animal feedings, Papa Steve’s Family Farm and numerous activities.

Good Old Days

Born in Pine River, Manitoba in 1920, Stephen J. Tykolis came to Niagara when he was 17 years old. He married Yolande and moved with his seven children to Stevensville in 1955. Mr. Tykolis was an entrepreneur and worked hard to achieve his dreams. With the help of his family he built a successful landscaping business, Stevensville Lawn Service, and greenhouse and retail operation, Stevensville Garden Gallery. He loved his community and the people in it. His philosophy in life, according to his children was “everything is achievable if you worked hard enough”. In retirement Mr. Tykolis didn’t go fishing, he honed his love for animals. He started a private hobby farm for his personal enjoyment. Soon he discovered that family and friends shared his love and curiosity of animals.

Mr. Tykolis passed away in December of 1992 at the age of 72, however his legacy lives on through his children in the form of Safari Niagara. In memory of their father, his children, Terry, Tim and Marianne, developed his hobby farm into a small petting zoo and eventually the full-scale animal adventure known today as Safari Niagara. The park is dedicated to his passion for sharing the wonders of wildlife while providing a learning and fun experience for all ages and abilities.