The Wild Life

blog post photo

© JWM Productions

Meet Bud and Carrie. You could say they live the wild life. But for this couple, that doesn’t always mean fun and partying. They live together with over 400 animal residents, and work together, rescuing exotic animals, rehabilitating local wildlife and running a struggling small zoo in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. With no days off and no vacation, their relationship has more than its fair share of pressure. They sometimes butt heads, but they share a deep passion for animals that always bring them together again.

The brand new series My Life Is a Zoo follows this intriguing couple around their DeYoung Family Zoo as they work to keep up with the demands of their business, while tending to their huge and ever-growing wild family.

Photo Caption (above): Bud and Carrie DeYoung pose with Gus, their bonnet macaque, and Gunner, their spider monkey, at the DeYoung Family Zoo.

“There’s no combination of two people that could be doing what we are doing… we’re doing it all on our own,” says Bud.

Carrie adds: “Every single day in and out we are constantly here at the zoo dealing with animals and caring for animals… I mean this is it. We have completely dedicated our lives to this.  We don’t even own a couch! We can’t sit down and watch TV. People think we’re nuts.”

The zoo is home to a diverse mix of exotic and regional animals, some of them rescued from distant parts of the world. Carrie moved in seven years ago and since then the zoo has grown dramatically. It now includes a rehab and rescue program with Bud and Carrie adopting between three and 10 orphaned animals every week.

It’s a struggle for the couple who depend on admission fees collected during the short summer to last through the harsh winter. The show documents the impact of a nasty, early snowstorm with more than a foot of blowing snow and below zero temperatures.  Delivering over 2,000 pounds of meat and 500 gallons of fresh water every day is difficult enough, but with a foot of snow on the ground, battling winters fury makes the task Herculean! Throw in a pregnant white tiger ready to deliver, an untrained stallion to rescue, a pregnant potbelly pig to relocate, and a sick calf to tend to, the two are in for one crazy winter. 

My Life Is a Zoo premieres Monday, April 26 at 10 PM et/pt on Nat Geo Wild!

Video Preview: “The Hippo Rush” — The zoo is getting a hippo!  But can Bud and Carrie finish the hippo pen in time for his arrival?


  1. Science Encounter
    January 15, 2011, 9:00 pm

    This was such an amazing article! I’m so glad I read it! I wish I had this type of experience with animals.

  2. thepicturegal
    January 16, 2011, 3:52 am

    I’ve been going to DeYoung Family Zoo for as long as I can remember. I love it so much, that this summer when I got married, I brought my ENTIRE FAMILY who came from all over the country– to spend a day at the zoo. Bud and Carrie are nothing short of amazing, treating my family just as their own. The one on one experiences with the animals, seeing Bud and Carrie and how they care for the animals left my family speechless. Every year, when I go home to visit, I spend a day at the zoo, sometimes more. WE ALL LOVE THE ZOO!

  3. thepicturegal
    January 16, 2011, 4:33 am

    PS— I can’t wait for the show..

  4. one_Disturbed_dude
    January 25, 2011, 5:39 am

    I only have one question, why is there only 4 shows?!?! I want more!

  5. kandiholmes
    January 25, 2011, 2:38 pm

    LOVE the show. My family and I go there every summer and have for the past 10 years. Bud and Carrie are such wonderful people. The way they care about there animals and the welfare of all animals, is just truly amazing. I would love to see many more shows. When I saw there first show last July, I havn’t been able to shut up about it. I told everyone about it. I was so excited to see that there would be more shows, but 4 shows is just not enough. We need more of Bud and Carrie and their wonderful family.

  6. thepicturegal
    January 25, 2011, 3:43 pm

    I absolutely say keep the show going!

  7. jerzyy
    January 25, 2011, 5:52 pm

    I agree that 4 shows is not enough.Keep the filming going.Come back to the zoo soon.To the film crew… you did a great job, and I know you had fun!! Bud and Carrie…God bless you for your love of these great animals of all kinds, and giving them a loving home. I can’t say enough good things about you.Love working wiyh you.To anyone else living in the area please!!!gat ahold of bud and carrie to volunteer,the winter is real tough for them,any help or donations is greatly appreciated.

  8. AnnaFitzgeraldPancaldo
    February 9, 2011, 10:49 pm

    I continue to love this show! Each episode is captivating! Thanks to NatGeo for offering such wonderful shows! This one is definitely one of my absolute favourites!

  9. KhymKreider
    February 17, 2011, 1:07 am

    Bud and Carrie are great people with hearts of gold! Keep filming and keep getting the word out about their fabulous zoo and Pipers Place!!

  10. yoopergirl24
    March 1, 2011, 6:22 pm

    Please do more shows of My Life’s a Zoo, Bud and Carrie are great people and deserve this very much, everything they do for these animal. All they want to do is teach people about animals instead of just reading about it you can interact with some of the babies and I think people deserve to know about this.
    So Please Please do more shows on them.

  11. AudryS
    March 5, 2011, 1:22 am

    I love this show and I live about 10 minutes from the Zoo and have been there many times and what he had done over the years is awesome. When I first use to go there over 20 years ago he had deer and had just got his first bear and to see where he is now is AMAZING! Please keep this show going.

  12. AnnaFitzgeraldPancaldo
    March 7, 2011, 3:44 pm

    What happened to the show? I keep waiting for new episodes and nothing comes but the older ones. Please do not discontinue this show, it was so much fun and every age group in my family, from my parents to my grandson absolutely loved this show.

  13. yooperchick76
    March 7, 2011, 6:14 pm

    I also would love to see more of "My Life is a Zoo" episodes. The show is entertaining, and to say the least educational. Bud & Carrie deserve so much in life for their dedication. Also, Piper’s Place, the no kill shelter, is amazing. Don’t know who they do it — but hats off to them both.

  14. roxibiscuit
    March 11, 2011, 8:08 pm

    More "My Life is a Zoo" please! I still watch the re-runs whenever they are on but would love some new episodes! Please keep the show going, many people would be devastated if it was discontinued.

  15. rmgdragon
    March 27, 2011, 9:25 pm

    come on show this show more its the best show ever and its also very educational and it has inspired me to own my own zoo and to help wild and domestic animals. DO MORE SHOWS DO MORE SHOWS I AM GUNNA KEEP BUGGIN TILL YOU DO LOL COME ON I NEED THIS SHOW ITS AMAZING BUD AND CARRIE ARE THE BEST PEOPLE THAT I KNOW TODAY!!!!!!!!!!

  16. rmgdragon
    March 27, 2011, 9:28 pm

    THIS ISNT COOL I LOVE THIS SHOW AND THEY DONT EVEN SHOW RE-runs where i live in the west its not fair >:< keep on showing the show!!!!!!

  17. rmgdragon
    March 31, 2011, 11:43 pm

    plaease dont cancel this show i never watch nat geo wild inless this is on and if it doesnt show then i dont wwatch nat geo wild anymore i am cereal i love this show i am a girl with a dream inspired by bud and carrie i cant live without this show!!): this show is awsome whoever is trying to cancel it is gunna fail becuz there is a whole lot of fans out there that go to their zoo and i cant but i bet that its amazing there and i would do anything to stop this show from being canceled!! i have never been iinspired so much by anyone else bud and carrie are my heros!! they help other zoos an they help domestic animals 2!! please dont cancel this show!!):

  18. rmgdragon
    April 10, 2011, 11:01 pm

    hello keep the show goin this is horrible people that dont live close to the deyoung family zoo need this show i need this show this show shows the struggles of runin a zoo and i want to be a zoologist when i am older and this show has inspired me to study even more than i allready have so yeah

  19. alaskafan
    April 17, 2011, 8:07 am

    I love this show!!! Please do another season. I think Bud and Carrie are great and I love watching their adventures. I wish I had heard about this series sooner.

  20. MichelleW
    April 25, 2011, 3:32 am

    Please keep the show going!!! My whole family enjoys it especially our 5 year old twins; they L-O-V-E it and have been telling all of our friends and family about their favorite show with Bud and Carrie on it.

  21. rmgdragon
    April 25, 2011, 10:10 pm

    thanx for putting the show back on!!! but now you guys need to show new episodes right now its just reruns so please and thankyou!!

  22. minniedog
    April 30, 2011, 2:40 pm

    My family just found the My Life’s a Zoo show and have enjoyed all available episodes. The adventure and variety of the show was surprising and exciting. Please, please tell me that there are many more episodes coming! I would love to follow these fun and unique people and their animals over time!

  23. rmgdragon
    June 2, 2011, 12:33 am

    COME ON at first you guys put it on and then cancel it!!! WHATS UP WITH THAT!!!!

  24. rmgdragon
    June 2, 2011, 12:38 am

    come on please put 3 more seasons at the least of My Life is a Zoo. i luv this show i am a little person in a big world with a lot of animal abuse and this show is a role model to people to take better care of animals. bud and carrie inspired me even more to be a zoologist i am in 7th grade and i was set on being a person who cares for animals since i was 4 years old no joke. they inspired me more and more with every show and please put it back on i luv to watch their adventures everyday when i return to school… then you guys canceled it i even bought the dvd of their show!!

  25. mirra
    September 18, 2011, 4:59 pm

    The first time when I watched this show via cable tv, I was in AWED! Seeing the couple’s endless love and dedication towards the animals was heartwarming till my eyes got watery after the last episode. Please continue filming this series! Greetings from Singapore! 🙂

  26. Nilusha Lake
    March 20, 2012, 2:35 pm

    Love love the show. To see such compationate and caring people brightens my day. Please keep the show on the air.

  27. Caliente
    September 26, 2012, 9:48 pm

    Has everyone gone mad? This show is deeply disturbing. The animals are the innocent victims of a very odd couple who just want to play with animals all day. The enclosures are small and dirty and the lives the poor creatures are living are nothing short of bleak. When Carrie wants yet another wild animal it’s like watching a child begging for a puppy. This kind of animal hoarding should never be encouraged. They tried to breed a white tiger but the baby died shortly after birth. If this baby had received the proper care it may have had a chance. It’s upsetting to watch this show.

  28. Jane O'Brien
    Ontario, Canada
    October 13, 2012, 8:23 am

    I appreciate all the effort that is put into this private zoo,
    But what happens to the GROWING population of animals
    in the long run? How many is too many captive wild animals
    and what happens to them when the money runs out?
    Their hearts are there when they rescue wild and domestic
    animals, but as in many good hearted projects, the
    fear of lack of finances take over common sense and
    making the right choices for the animals best interest.
    Breeding the WHITE tiger has finally angered me.
    Breeding cats with leucism only keeps it going and
    continues people’s fascination with white cats. Then
    more irresponsible uneducated people breed more
    white tigers which can lead to HORRIBLE birth defects!!
    So why are they doing it! So ignorant zoo goers can gock
    Through a cage at a white tiger and pay money to see
    it or make money off the cubs and breed more white tigers!
    They don’t see the deformed cubs and the pain they
    go through before being killed! Grow up viewers
    and do your homework, because the networks don’t!!!!

  29. Mrs. Barb Dunphy
    March 2, 2013, 12:33 am

    Carrie and Bud : ) Your wonderful…keep up the great work. I do hope that you can keep it up and that maybe if you wrote a book of all your time with all the great animals and with pictures maybe you could raise money that way. I know it would be a great book, I for sure would buy it and many others would also. By helping all these animals you are giving them a life and a home where otherwise they may not have a life at all. ” Cheers to you both” and all that help you. I and hubby hope that your program comes back on TV. All the Best. Sure miss watching your program.

  30. Scott D
    March 2, 2013, 2:31 am

    Sure hope that you bring the show back on again. Bud and Carrie are great. There are only a few that care so much and give up their lives for the lives of animals and to care for them. There are a few people that maybe don’t care for the show, but there are thousands that do. Hope that you can carry on…

  31. Narcisa
    June 2, 2013, 5:58 am

    Seen the show for first time and its amazing what they do. Their commitment is evident.

  32. Lynne
    April 3, 4:34 pm

    Sweet Endeavors. I am thankful for their hard work.
    I don’t like the way Carrie talks to Bud though. Very disrespectful.