About two hours south of Suwanee in Pine Mountain, Georgia, Wild Animal Safari is a 500 acre drive-through animal park, that lets you get face-to-face with over 650 animals from all over the world.
By: Angela Veugeler | Photos by Angela Veugeler
One Friday in February when school was closed, my family and I took the opportunity to visit Wild Animal Safari, in Pine Mountain, Georgia. Once we arrived at the 500-acre park, we opted to take one of Wild Animal Safari’s zebra minivans, available to rent for $22, rather than our own vehicle. Our three boys piled into the zebra van and we headed toward the front gate of the Serengeti Adventure, the drive-through safari-like experience. After the two-hour drive to Pine Mountain, we were ready to see some animals!
Armed with eight bags of food, right after crossing the gate, we were greeted by several Emu. With their sharp beaks, and heeding the advice of park staff, we decided we had better not hand feed them and set a couple of pieces of food on the van window. They quickly grabbed them, and immediately afterward, Elk, Axis Deer, Fallow Deer, Pot- Bellied Pigs and other species of animals swarmed our van. The Elk and other animals stuck their heads right in the windows and ate food out of our hands (luckily there were a few metal bars to prevent the animals heads from getting all the way into the vehicle). All of us were wide-eyed and laughing with excitement. We literally sat in that spot right at the entrance for a good 15 minutes, having so much fun feeding and observing all of the different animals that were coming up.
We started forward and were greeted by a group of Mouflon Sheep. These animals wanted the food so badly, they were standing on their hind legs, resting their front hooves against the van. Again, all sorts of animals that had been laying in the field or grazing in the distance came over to see if they could get a hand-out.
The next stop was the giraffes, Rose and Too Tall. My husband pulled the van up next to where they were housed. Once they saw us, they crossed the pasture toward us. These beautiful, giant animals came right up to the van, stuck their heads in as much as they could with the bars on the windows, and reached their long tongues in to grab the food. We all had the opportunity to pet them, feed them, appreciate their beauty and get slobbered on by them. We stayed to enjoy them for a good while and eventually started forward. As we pulled away, about 30 animals trotted after us.
The rest of the 3-1/2-mile ride was just as exciting, with Pot-Bellied Pigs running next to the van, American Bison, Texas Longhorn, Ostrich, Zebra, Nilgai, Gaur and more coming right up to the vehicle and letting us feed them. We were able to pet them, feed them, take lots of pictures and videos and get a lot of excitement and laughs out of the experience.
After the ride, we strolled through the Walkabout, which was more like a traditional zoo. There were baboons, kangaroo, tortoises, peacocks, singing dogs (yes, they actually sing), tigers and more. One of the highlights was getting to see the parks eight-week-old Liger, Nika. A Liger is a cross between a male lion and female tiger. Nika came to Wild Animal Safari from North Carolina and will soon be a companion to Athena, a white tiger that is about six months older. She will be available for viewings on weekends in March.
Wild Animal Safari was founded in 1991 by Ron Snider, who wanted to create a place where people could get up close and personal with the types of animals many folks never get to experience. One of the goals in the creation of the park was to be a reasonably priced attraction, allowing proper care of the animals and grounds and helping children to gain a lifelong love of animals and nature. Wild Animal Safari also has a café and gift shop.
The park was purchased 11 years ago and the new owners have upgraded the grounds, acquired new animals and worked to enhance guests’ experience. Wild Animal Safari has consistently been rated one of the top drive-through animal parks in the country. According to General Manager, Mike Newman, “People are here to have a good time; we are here to assist them in having a good time.” With over 650 total animals and 75 different species, some threatened or endangered, there were plenty that we had never seen before. All of my kids rated the experience a “10” (and they are tough critics!). It was incredible! Well worth the drive, and a fun family day that we will treasure forever! For more information on Wild Animal Safari, visit them online at AnimalSafari.com/Georgia.