Founding of the Gilcrease Nature Sanctuary

In 1921, Leonard and Elda Gilcrease moved with their two small boys to Las Vegas to begin a farming life. By 1925, the Gilcrease Ranch consisted of 960 acres. In 1932, the couple separated and Leonard moved back to his family home in California. Elda and her sons continued a poultry and egg business, which helped to support them through the war years. Eldest son, Ted, took a keen interest in the mechanics of farm equipment and the detail of bookkeeping. Although he actively worked the fields, younger son, Bill, was more interested in visiting with the animals, painting, and picking out notes on his mother's piano.

By 1955, ready to take a break from farming, Bill took a series of odd jobs which eventually led him to Arizona in 1960. After a year away, Bill returned and tried his hand at lawn maintenance and then as a product distributor. While doing so, Bill was also accumulating quite a flock of gambel quail and other exotic animals, which he kept in the old chicken coop at the ranch. In 1976, the Nevada Wild Animal Preserve liquidated. Land that had been purchased from the Gilcrease brothers was returned, now improved with several animal pens and a caretaker apartment. Bill took this opportunity to move himself and his animals to the larger facility.

In 1990, the Gilcrease Bird Sanctuary was incorporated. In 1993 the name was changed to the "Gilcrease Nature Sanctuary" located at the facility owned by the Gilcrease brothers. The land and contents were transferred to the Gilcrease Nature Sanctuary at the end of 1996.

Gilcrease Ranch

This page has been created to provide a short history of the Gilcrease Nature Sanctuary. For more information, see

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