After establishing himself as a producer, creator, and performer in Las Vegas, Jonathan began working on a multi-million dollar production on the Las Vegas Strip. The show Jonathan was working on stayed in pre-production for three years while he presided over choreographers, showgirls, musicians, set designers and a small menagerie of exotic animals.
Jonathan’s activism in animal issues got started soon after he decided to acquire and train two tiger cubs for his production. While learning to care for his cubs, he was exposed to other animal trainers and witnessed the neglect and abuse that many animal performers suffer behind the scenes. He started to rescue animals while continuing his work with wild animals in movies, TV shows, commercials, documentaries, specials, and a variety of shoots and exhibits.
As Jonathan’s reputation for saving animals spread, he started to receive calls from local performers wanting to unload their animals that were unwilling or unable to perform. Jonathan learned that once these magnificent creatures lose their value as a performer, they are commonly disposed of. After encountering some of the most heart-wrenching cases of neglect, abuse, and malicious cruelty, he was compelled to take action. Consumed with the full-time care needs of the animals he acquired, he put his production on hiatus.
Being a firm believer in the power of education, he launched his campaign through Predator’s Paradise, an educational wildlife theme park at the Aladdin Hotel on the Las Vegas Strip. Though Predator's Paradise was an absolute success, Jonathan came to a full realization that animals in entertainment do not have a quality of life, even under the best circumstances. Actress Stephanie Powers frequented his educational shows and they became acquainted and discovered that they shared a passion for animal welfare and conservation. Powers encouraged Jonathan to look into starting up a sanctuary of his own. Determined to provide his rescued animals with the best quality of life possible, he proceeded to open the much larger Keepers of the Wild.
In 1995, Jonathan established Keepers of the Wild (KOTW) as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit animal sanctuary. The sanctuary is currently located on 175 acres in Valentine, Arizona. Over the years, Jonathan has worked with local, state, national, and international law enforcement and animal welfare agencies to assist with rescues, rehabilitation or providing a permanent home to both indigenous and exotic animals. In addition, he has served as an expert witness in court proceedings against animal abusers and worked as an independent consultant to other sanctuaries, animal parks, and universities.
Sabu rescued at 2 1/2 years old
Jonathan & Sabu 2 years later
The most frequently asked question I come across is...
"What made you change from using exotic animals in show business, to rescuing them from show business?"
Jonathan Kraft is an animal behaviorist who has a passion for animals that stems from his early childhood. Jonathan left his small hometown in Holland to immigrate to the United States via Canada in pursuit of the "American Dream." He settled and ran a highly successful chain of ballroom dancing studios for over 22 years. Throughout the years he was exposed to the entertainment industry and soon set his sights on a career in show business.