Even though back to school looms and parents are doing “the happy dance” and kids are groaning, there is still a lot of summer left for adventure. While you may not have time to jet off to Disney World for the Animal Kingdom, you can experience it Ohio. There is a magical place called The Wilds.
The Wilds, is a private, non-profit conversation center located on nearly 10,000 acres of reclaimed land in southeast Ohio. The Wilds is a facility that combines cutting-edge conservation science and education programs with unique visitor experiences.
We recently visited and experienced the Open Air Safari and Horseback Riding. The open-air safari has a knowledgeable guide that takes you through open-range animal areas where you will see rhinos, giraffes and many other rate and endangered animals roaming in large, natural settings. You’ll experience stops at Lake Trail and the Carnivore Center. The tour is approximately 2 hours long.
We loved the tour and our guide who was extremely personable and interacted a lot with the group on our open-ait truck. We stopped frequently to get up close views of animals standing just feet from our vehicle. My favorite was the ostrich that was overly interested in the rearview mirrors extending out from the driver’s side of the vehicle. That ostrich did a full perimeter of our vehicle often coming within inches of guests, staring at them as if they were the ones on display.
The animals are stunning and the habitats beautiful in that they are open ranges of natural settings. These animals have the best of both worlds – open prairies and habitats to live as they would in the wild but the care of a world-class veterinarian team of experts.
Following the open-air safari, we took some time to explore the gift shop and sit for a peaceful lunch from the cafe which provided a stunning setting overlooking much of the park. It was enough time to relax and enjoy the surroundings before our next adventure, the horseback safari.
Horseback safari tours are for guests who love wildlife and are looking for a new adventure. For my daughter and I, horses are a huge part of our life as my daughter is an equestrian. Anytime we have the opportunity to ride in a new environment, we jump at the chance.
The horseback safari takes guests on a journey along the beautiful landscapes of the Wilds overlooking the rolling hills, grasslands and butterfly habitat. The tours are approximately 45 minutes to an hour in length and you will have the opportunity to view animals roaming in their large natural settings.
Note that the minimum age for riders is 9 and those under 18 must be accompanied by adults. Helmets and vests are provided for all riders and are optional for adults.
The guides on the horseback safari are just as much fun as those on the open-air safari with lots of guest interaction and a wealth of knowledge and a few good stories about the animals and guests from their years of working at the Wilds.
If you get the opportunity, load up the family for a fun day of checking out the animals in a setting other than that of the zoo. Explore your wildside in Ohio.