Martine Colette

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About Martine

Martine Colette grew up surrounded by wild and exotic animals. As a young child she traveled the world with her father, who was in the Belgian diplomatic service, banking and an avid naturalist. Ms. Colette often went on safaris to observe wild animals and spent considerable time in “catching camps” that furnished animals to zoos around the world. It was during these formative years of witnessing the plight of the animals, and their mistreatment in hunting and trapping camps that she decided that helping them would be her life’s calling.

In the 1960’s, after building a successful Hollywood costume design business, Ms. Colette began caring for exotic animals in a three bedroom house – animals given to her by people who suddenly realized an ocelot was not intended to be a house cat. When the number of animals reached 50, she purchased 160 acres in the Angeles National Forest, officially incorporating the Wildlife Waystation in 1976.

From that point on, this unique sanctuary grew exponentially from the number of animals it rescued and accepted to the places these animals came from. Under Ms. Colette’s direction, the Wildlife Waystation became internationally known, accepting tigers from Ireland and lions from New Zealand as well as animals from across the United States. In 1995, Ms. Colette was the first to accept chimpanzees from biomedical research. Today the Waystation is the largest chimpanzee sanctuary in the Western United States.

In addition, tens of thousands of native wildlife have been rehabilitated and successfully released back into their natural habitat. Since 1976, the Wildlife Waystation has rescued, rehabilitated and given permanent sanctuary to over 76,000 wild and exotic animals.

Ms. Colette has been the recipient of numerous awards and accolades including being named a Designated Animal Expert for the City of Los Angeles; California Fish and Wildlife Certificate for 20 Years of Dedicated Service; and the California State Assembly Certificate of Recognition for 22 Years of Tender Loving Care to the Animal World.

“We take the animals that other people don’t want, or cannot care for any longer, and provide them a healthy home for the rest of their lives.”

~ Martine Colette, Founder of Wildlife Waystation


Ms. Colette has over 40 years of hands-on experience with rescuing animals, native wildlife rehabilitation and release and providing sanctuary for wild and exotic animals in need. A recipient of many awards, a designated wild animal expert and frequent speaker at events, Martine has an engaging style that educates and entertains and incorporates her years of experience, expertise and stories from the Waystation and educates about the importance of the ecological balance and how to coexist with wildlife.

If you would like to request Martine to speak at your event, meeting or conference please email: with your request and please include:

Primary contact information (name, email, phone):

Type of event:

Event Location or Venue:

Possible dates:

Number of expected attendees:

If this is outside of the Los Angeles area, would you be able to fund travel expenses.


Book a Private Event

There are opportunities to attend or book a private gathering in the sanctuary garden of our founder, Martine Colette. For detailed information, please call (818) 686-6681