Park is Closed.

At this sad time, the family of Matt and Christy Michel would like

to express their gratitude to all of the families that spent a great

deal of time at this beautiful park they worked so very hard to

build with their bare hands.  We have received so many heartfelt

words of compassion towards this family and the wonderful

times you spent with your children and friends at their ranch. 

Thank you.  Thank your for your kind words during the difficult times. 

There were beautiful memories spent at this park.  Thank you for being

a part of their journey.  Thank you for being part of the Circle G Family

with your true and honest friendship.  Goodbye.


In Remembrance

In the Beginning:  It all started with one guy and one camel. The relationship between man and animal has always been a fascination for many, but a way of life for few. Matt purchased his first camel by the name of Abdul in the summer 1993. This was beginning of a friendship that is still thriving to this very day. Matt began giving camel rides at the Knoxville Zoo in 1996 up until the present day and where he met his wife Christy.  Matt had always kept a collection of exotic and farm animals for his many jobs like: Live Nativities, Camel Rides and animals for the Dixie Stampede’s Christmas show(s) from 1996-2008. Needless to say, their animal family grew to a whooping 500 in number.The Growing Years:  In 2000 we bought 64 acres that would soon be called our zoo. In 2002 we broke ground and began clearing woods to make the roads on which our visitors drive today. We cleared the woods, made the roads, built the barns, strung 10,000+ feet of 8ft. fence all by ourselves with 2 of our staff and NO outside help. In 2002, we were ready for our first camel trek customer. At this time we were only open for our camel treks because our roads were only useful for trail riding and not a Cadillac.  Finally, in 2005, we purchased 40 additional acres, several species of deer and antelope and put the “finishing touches” on our roads, and became an “Opened Drive Thru Zoo”. 16 years later, 500 animals, one marriage, and a son we named Cash (now five years old and a ‘little rancher’ with big ideas just like his mommy & daddy), the Michel family has opened their ranch up to the public as a drive through zoo along with camel treks and WILD truck safari tours. We have always shared visions that include animals. Christy has always said that she could never imagine living with her husband if he didn’t get to wake up and go outside to play with the camel herd. This would have been like putting Steve Irwin behind a desk for 12 hours a day. Growing and adapting at the Circle G Ranch is mandatory of sorts for human and non-human residents.


personel bio pic

Matt Michel  (June 7, 1973 - August 13, 2016)

AKA “Gumby” This is where the G comes from in The Circle “G” Ranch. Matt was born and raised in northern Ohio and has been working with exotic animals since 1988. That’s over 20 year’s experience!! His passion for wildlife and the natural world shows in his work……. Friends say that Matt should have been born 100 years ago. He is just a simple man that demands the perfect basics out of every day living. People from all over the country send their camels to Matt to receive training for trail riding, camel rides and just basic knowledge that all animals need. Matt is our instructor here at our ‘School for Camels’.  His relationship with these highly misunderstood “Ships of the Desert” is quite extraordinary to observe and to be coupled with. Matt is our team leader and senior camel guy who has been training camels since 1994. He works sun up to well after sundown doing exactly what he loves most… working outdoors, working with animals and doing it all with his family by his side. Matt is a multi-talented idealist, highly driven individual, mechanically inclined, compassionate and an artist who turns our wild animal park in to a living, breathing, colorful canvas. Matt is the backbone and the boss man of The Circle G operation.

personel bio pic

Christy Michel

Behind every great organization is one person who brings a passion for what they do to the table and "makes it work".  Christy is that person.  Born and raised in middle Georgia, Christy developed her first taste of the animal world chasing and raising tadpoles to her "one of a kind" (and extremely lucky) lizard, Nigel at the age of 7! Moving to Arizona after high school took her down the path to pursuing a degree in Veterinary Medicine.  On a break and visiting family, she found her home after deciding to take a summer job with the camel rides at the Knoxville Zoo in 1998.  Since then, she has worked tirelessly next to her husband Matt to make the Circle G Ranch what it is today.  She is well known to whip up a mean meal for the "boys", raise a bottle baby that otherwise wouldn't make it, and crunching numbers.  Known as "Ma" to the staff, she balances being a mother, wife and business owner with pride and ease.  Christy is truly one of kind and it shows in every aspect of everyday business at the Circle G. 






Last Update: 10/18/2016