A &E

Dade City’s Wild Things

Dade City’s Wild Things
Photo courtesy Jocelyne Hilary

Dade City’s Wild Things is a small local zoo not too far from the campus.   It is a 22-acre zoo situated at 3725 Meridian Avenue, Dade City. Not many people have heard or seen this zoo, given its concealed location and lack of advertisement.

The zoo started with just a few tigers but eventually accumulated more rescue animals, volunteers, and staff. Any proceeds and profits made from ticket sales, gift shop sales and donations go back into sustaining, maintaining and supporting the zoo and its variety of animals.

The most impressive thing about this zoo is the large variety of animals they have including small tortoises, iguanas and exotic wild cats including jaguars, lions and tigers. It really is a great opportunity to be able to see these species that originate from different parts of the world in one place.

Most attraction parks consist of some sort of safari ride with a tour guide, but what makes this zoo particularly special is how close you can actually get to the animals, whether it is the safari tour package or the walking tour package. In the case of the Siberian tigers, for example, there’s no way to really visually appreciate how big they are until you are several feet away them, face to face across the cage.

The keepers and volunteers really make the experience enjoyable. On the walking tour especially the guide was very enthusiastic and passionate about the animals. The volunteers wanted to educate visitors about the animals’ backgrounds and provide information on the dangers that surrounded them including hunting, poaching and risk of extinction. The tour is very informative and did not feel rushed or memorized and there were plenty of opportunities given to ask questions and have them answered.

There are various tours and packages to choose from with prices starting from  $14.99 for a Jungle Safari ride. The more expensive the tour, the more animals you will get to see. There’s no restriction to only doing one tour; they can be combined to maximize your experience.  In addition to these amazing tours, what  has made this zoo rise to prominences are the famous animal encounters. The animal encounters are an additional cost to the tours but for just under $40 you can do the Jungle Safari Ride and experience an animal encounter.

Animal encounters are split into two groups. Class A consists of the larger animals like zebras and the wild cats, including tiger cubs and lynx. Class B consists of smaller animals and is about $10 cheaper, giving you the opportunity to interact with coyotes, buffalos, bearded dragons and alligators. The Class A encounter is definitely worth the extra $10, because the tiger cubs are just heart warmingly cute. The cubs are typically several weeks old and are just too adorable to describe. The interaction consists of petting the animals and having the opportunity to take pictures with them. Unfortunately, you cannot take photos on personal devices, but the photo package is available for online download for an additional $24. The package includes numerous pictures.

If you are feeling bold, there is also the opportunity to zip line across the tiger cages and swim with the tiger cubs and baby gators, but the price tag attached to this is significantly higher.

Tickets can be bought online or by the phone, but tour times have to be done on the phone.  Dade City’s Wild Things is definitely an unforgettable place that should be experienced especially by Leo students given its affordable prices and short distance from campus. Not to mention visiting Dade City’s Wild Things helps them support and help conserve some of the most beautiful species that are now at risk of extinction.

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