Thursday, July 14, 2011

O-hi-o, O-hi-o, It's Off to the Zoo We Go, Part I: African Safari Wildlife Park

We just returned from a mini zoo extravaganza in Ohio. Tuesday the kids and I headed to Port Clinton, Ohio with my mother-in-law to the African Safari Wildlife Park. Port Clinton is about two hours from Detroit, and about one hour east of Toledo, on the way to Cedar Point. The drive was nice, as the last 40 miles or so were highway versus desolate, ugly expressway.

If you're unfamiliar with this place, it's a drive through zoo. As in, the animals are freely roaming about and you drive along a road amongst them. You can buy food to feed them, so of course they cozy up to every vehicle that comes through, hoping for a handout. Although no doubt some of these guys could do some damage to your car, or hurt visitors pretty badly, we're not talking lions and tigers and bears. The animals at the African Safari Wildlife Park are more along the lines of llamas, deer, moose, buffalo, and water buffalo. Toward the end there are also zebras and giraffes that are kept behind a fence, but we could drive right up to them and feed them through the van window too, they just couldn't ambush our vehicle and try to climb in. 

There's a lot to do too besides just the drive thru. We saw pig races, an animal show where the kids were given the opportunity to pet different animals, a playground, a handful of animals on display (more like a traditional zoo), plus each child (up to 100 pounds) gets one pony ride and one camel ride included in admission. Since it was about 95 degrees out that day, we were relieved that there was an ice cream shop on site and other refreshments available for purchase. There were shady places to eat outside, and we could have packed our own lunch, but we ate on the way. 

This place was so much fun! There are just no words to describe how cool it is to have a buffalo stick his head in your car window to eat a carrot. (Visitors are advised to only feed the animals out of the large cups they provide to prevent accidental bites). Or to have three or four llamas (I think they call them alpacas, but is there a difference? I don't know.) on each side of your vehicle sweetly imploring you with their big expression-filled eyes to please roll down your window and share the snacks. All of us were laughing and squealing the whole way through. When we first got there, they gave us a re-entry ticket so we took advantage of that and went through twice. The kids loved it, and this is definitely a place we'd like to visit again. 

Stay tuned for Part II., The Toledo Zoo, coming soon.


Katie said...

I really want to take my kids to the African Safari, but I was worried they would be too scared with the animals so close! Were your kids nervous or scared at all? It looks like a great time!

alyaia75 said...

Katie, they all loved it, even the 2 year old. They weren't scared, although the first time we went through only my oldest wanted to sit in front with me (since the back window don't go down in the van). The second time we went through my 8 year old and my 4 year old took turns sitting up front too. You also have the option of leaving your windows up and not feeding them if your kids don't like the animals sticking their heads in, but it really a great time!

Liz Parker said...

My friends and I (all in our mid-20s) loved it ... though I have to say I was glad it wasn't my car! :P (a friend drove)