Dade City Wild Things - Education, Conservation and Adventure
Recently, I got to experience the joy of Dade City Wild Things for myself, due to a friend spotting a Groupon for it. Although it was about an hour and a half away from our house, we decided to make an adventure out of it, and headed to Dade City, Florida for what would turn out to be the adventure of a lifetime and an experience that I will never forget. The drive was a simple one from where we lived, and it turned out to be one of the most unique and exciting animal adventures that I've ever had the pleasure of experiencing first-hand, and coming from an animal lover who enjoys any kind of animal adventure, that is sure saying a lot.
Although the home base for Dade City looks like nothing more than an innocuous house in the middle of the suburbs, the reality was far different. The home where you meet for the eventual tour is nondescript, but it is full of fun all on its own, and it leads to the adventure of a lifetime. At the house, you can purchase up-close encounters that are rarely matched, interact with some smaller versions of the animals that you're likely to encounter and see the reality of animal conservation up close and in person. Our Groupon consisted of a discount on the walking jungle tour (to be explored in depth later on in this hub review) and we opted for an additional purchase, enabling us to play, pet and interact with a baby three-week-old white Bengal tiger cub named Remington. This proved to be something that seeded itself in my memory in ways that are not soon forgotten, and it left me with an even more dedicated commitment to animal conservation than I had before I began.
The zoo itself actually resides on 22 acres in the heart of Dade City, and it's home to some unique and amazing animals - most of whom wouldn't have a place to call home without this animal sanctuary. Dade City Wild Things takes a unique approach to animal care that has come under fire from some of its competition. They allow guests and trainers alike to experience the animals up close and personally, which contributes to the animal's later ability to receive important veterinary care while simultaneously allowing vital enrichment in the animal's lives - something that a lot of other zoos lack.
Walking and Riding Tours
The Sunken Jungle Tour:
The Sunken Jungle tour is a two hour walking tour, where guests can get up close (closer than you may expect) to a lot of enormous wild cats - as well as their smaller cousins, new and old world monkeys and more. The tour comes complete with a guide, who is knowledgeable and well informed about all of the animals in their care, and they provide vital information about the species, habits and personalities of the animals that call the zoo home. Guests can come literally face to face with a wide variety of monkeys as well as big cats - and even bears, deer and rare animals that they may not even encounter in a traditional zoo environment. The Sunken Jungle tour runs Tuesday through Saturday at varied times, and appointments are always welcomed. This is the tour that our group went on. The tour costs $23 per person (and groupons are often available that are buy one, get one free. The only downside to this tour was that, due to its size, we were not permitted to take photographs. Photography tours can be booked on an individual basis, so the photography lovers can still take all of the pictures they'd like while gaining an up close and personal experience of a lifetime.
The Jungle Safari Ride:
This tour allow guests to see a whole different collection of animals from the comfort of a motorized tram. It features white Bengal tigers, and the rare Barbary lion, which is now extinct in the wild. The conclusion of the tour includes a trip through a field where animals are free to graze freely, where guests are given the opportunity to feed Buffalo. This tour is recommended for guests who would like to remain seated or who have difficulty walking in the Florida sun for the two hours required to take the Sunken Jungle tour. All tours can be taken individually or combined with other tours/experiences, and both give guests the opportunity to see amazing and beautiful animals at extremely close range.
Up Close and Personal Encounters
Guests who want an even more unique and remarkable experience at Dade City wild things can opt for an add on package that includes a wide variety of one-on-one or group animal encounters that are extremely rare - and incredibly remarkable. Our group opted for the add-on tiger experience. A three-week-old white tiger cub (pictured) named Remington was placed on a table in front of us, and we got to speak with his trainer, find out his history, pet him, touch him and interact with him on a personal basis. I've never imagined experiencing such an adventure, and to share it with my spouse and closest friends was a truly one-of-a-kind adventure.
Also available are packages which allow guests to swim with a tiger cub or a small alligator, feed a wide variety of animals including Buffalo, Bears and Tigers, interact with a monkey, play with a Zebra foal, and many, many more. While interacting with the Tiger was affordable (at $20 per person for a 15-20 minute session) some of the more involved encounters like swimming with a tiger cub are far more pricey. Reservations are recommended, and personal interactive encounters can be arranged with advanced notice. Picture CD's documenting your encounter can be purchased when you make the appointment, and you can also receive a code to purchase/download your picture set online.
These animal encounters are truly unique, and the experience is one that is fun for the whole family.
- Dade City's Wild Things
Dade City's Wild Things Zoo