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Arkansas power company, wildlife park at odds over power line

A move to seize almost 10 acres for construction of a power line has affected 100 acres of the Wild Wilderness Drive-Through Safari in Gentry, Ark., the owners say.
BY SHEILA STOGSDILL Published: August 19, 2013

A move to seize almost 10 acres by an Arkansas power company has affected 100 acres of a wild animal park in northwest Arkansas, its owners say.

Southwestern Electric Power Co. declared eminent domain on 9.7 acres of the Wild Wilderness Drive-Through Safari in Gentry, Ark. The action seeks easement rights for the construction of a power line.

More than 100,000 visitors come each year to the 400-acre park, which is home to zebras, exotic birds, monkeys, camels, tigers, lions, bears, ostriches and a hippopotamus. It is near the border with Oklahoma, about 86 miles northeast of Tulsa.

According to the complaint — filed Aug. 14, 2012, in the Circuit Court of Benton County, Division II — the parties were unable to agree on just compensation for the land. The estimated value is $36,600, according to the clerk's office.

The power line project affects 100 acres known as Safari 4, said Leon Wilmouth, co-manager of the family-owned business.

Wilmouth said he has offered five or six alternative plans to the power company and all have been rejected. If the power company doesn't reroute the power line, the park will have to buy more property, he said.

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