Have a Roaring Good Time at Lion Country Safari
By Lauren Tjaden
Just west of Palm Beach, you’ll find Lion Country Safari, America’s first drive-through wildlife preserve. Open since 1967, it offers the rare chance to get up close with wild creatures. But it offers a whole lot more too—rides, attractions, animal encounters and other adventures.
Here’s your guide of what to do there.
Be part of the herd
There’s something about cages and bars. Or more to the point, the lack of them.
It feels good to watch zebras -- so close you can see their muzzles tremble as they munch grass – roaming in herds, just like they would in the wild. Or to spot a lion, all eight feet of him, taking his version of a catnap in the sun.
The thrill level changes too. You’ll notice this when a rhino, stout as a tank, clatters across the road right in front of you. I guarantee goosebumps.
The Drive-Through-Safari is divided into seven sections, which houses over 900 animals, kept in large fenced areas with about five miles of paved roadway running through it.
You drive your own car through it, at your own pace, while listening to a recorded narration. Some of the animals, like giraffes, can come right up to your car. Others, like lions, are separated from the vehicles. (They used to roam freely with the cars; but lost the privilege in 2005, because of visitors who ignored warnings and opened their car doors.)
Take a walk on the wild side
Amusement Park rides, miniature golf, animal feeding opportunities, and even an animal theater: The Walk-Through-Safari boasts all of them and more. You can navigate the islands of Lake Shanalee on a paddleboat, where siamangs and spider monkeys dance in the trees; pan for gems and fossils at the Orange River Mining Company; or take the Safari Plunge down a twisted waterslide. You can get lost in the Safari Maze, let your toddlers have a toot on the Rio Grande Train, or tempt a giraffe to nibble a treat from your hand. A can’t-miss attraction is the Lory Bird Aviary. Spend the $2 to buy a cup of nectar, and you’ll be a big hit with the exotic birds, who will happily roost on your wrist for a sip.
Private tours and encounters include guided tours of the Walking Safari and the Driving Safari, as well as the strange and cool ‘Giraffe Painting Encounter.’ It’s true: one of the long-necked-wonders will paint a masterpiece for you.
Making a difference
Lion Country Safari is dedicated to conservation, locally and globally. They help folks become more responsible pet owners, are involved in wildlife rehabilitation, recycling education, and more. They also offer exciting opportunities for you to be one of the good guys: you can volunteer to take part in ChimpanZoo, an international program where you can contribute to the research of the Jane Goodall Institute.
Stay and play
You’ll think you’re in Africa when you fall asleep to the sounds of wild animals at the award-winning Lion Country Safari KOA Campground. It offers tent sites, RV sites and ‘kabins.’
When you go…
Lion Country Safari
2003 Lion Country Safari Road
Loxahatchee, FL 33470