This is the kind of zoo alternative that I support. Safari Edventure is a non-profit organization run by volunteers who passionately care about the rescued, rehabilitated, and re-homed animals that live there. They house arctic wolves, a kangaroo, a wallaby, coatimundi, pigs, lemurs, donkeys, reptiles, foxes, porcupine, and all kinds of other critters. No animals were purchased for show; all animals have a shaded, appropriate enclosure. This is the best place I’ve found in south Florida for having personal animal interactions, seeing and learning about wildlife, and supporting a caring organization. It’s called an “edventure” because you learn shit.
My favorite thing about this place is the founder’s emphasis on environmental education and experiential learning. They believe, as is stated in the biophilia hypothesis, that people have an innate desire to connect to nature and that development can create a deficit of natural experiences. They encourage families and schools to come and learn about how animals live, how plants grow, and where food comes from. If I had the money and resources I’d love to create something similar.
On another note, the lemurs are tight. Sometimes you can feed them blueberries. If I got too close this dude took my sunglasses off of my face though.
Parking is free and admission is only $12, which is a hell of a steal of you ask me. You can easily spend 3-4 hours here following the path that weaves through the property and seeing the animals. Part of the trail goes through lush trees and showcases the garden. Included in the price are several animal encounters: a wildlife presentation, an opportunity to pet the artic wolves, and a kangaroo and wallaby feeding/petting session. You can pet the donkeys and give them carrots too but I’d watch out for those motherfuckers because one of them chomped down on my finger.
The wildlife presentation: wooden benches are arranged in a semi-circle where we sit like we’re at camp and learn about animals together. A handler brings out different animals one at a time to explain about the lifestyle and diet, then the animal walks around a bit or is brought around for people to touch or hold if the animal is into it. They have a chinchilla, tarantula, anteater, snake, sloth, hedgehog, and others. It’s pretty dang cool.
This is the only time I’ve ever had an opportunity to touch a sloth or pet an anteater as it walks by. I’d normally say that this kind of interaction stresses out the animals, but the volunteers are diligent about making sure that everyone is respectful and that the animals aren’t put through too much each day.
The wolves: Small groups are allowed to go into the enclosure with 3 arctic wolves. They will love the fuck out of you. They seem to love the stimulation, and volunteers are always present to keep things appropriate and ensure that no one gets fresh.
Kangaroo and wallaby: if everyone’s acting right then volunteers will allow a few people at a time to step in with the kangaroo and wallaby to pet and feed a snack.
At one point we were wandering around and saw a free-roaming snake that just happened to be on the property make its way into a reptile cage. He never made it out.
Shit’s wild, man.