Behind the Scenes at Wild Florida Animal Park

If your vacation to Central Florida only includes visits to theme parks, you are missing out. While the theme parks are undoubtedly fun, a look at the “real Florida” awaits you at Wild Florida Animal Park, less than an hour’s drive from Walt Disney World. You might even be able to check a few items off of your bucket list while you’re there.

Wild Florida is not your typical zoo. In addition to some terrific animal exhibits, this park also offers airboat rides, buggy tours of a working ranch, and some amazing animal encounters.

On our visit, we booked Wild Florida’s Behind the Scenes tour. It was truly an unforgettable experience.

Animal Encounter at Wild Florida

As part of a behind-the-scenes tour, you participate in an animal encounter with one of Wild Florida’s exotic animals. You can meet an African porcupine, ring-tailed lemur, or two-toed sloth. We met Guy, one of the park’s resident sloths.

Guy the Sloth loves to hang out in this flower pot

Unlike other animal¬†encounters we have had, this one was worth every penny we spent. The group was limited to ten participants, so we each got to spend ample time with Guy. Each participant fed him a piece of fruit and took tons of photos with him. We even got to pet him!!! This was a bucket list item for me, and it is something rarely available with other zoo’s animal encounters.

We got to pet a sloth!!

I should add that the zoo takes great care of these animals. If they don’t feel like interacting with people, they do not have to. They can move freely in their enclosure during the encounter, and they receive a tasty treat after each tour. Also, the zoo only gives a few tours each day. The sloths take turns participating in the tours, too, so none of them become fatigued from the experience.

Zoo Tour

After our sloth encounter, we moved on to the next portion of our behind-the-scenes experience: the zoo tour. We started off in the Animal Nutrition Center, where we peeked in the refrigerators to see what all the animals eat. Along with plenty of fruits and vegetables, we found bags of frozen rats and other meats for the zoo’s carnivores. We learned a lot about feeding zoo animals, even though the frozen rats grossed out our daughter.

Sleepy Parrot on the tour

Next, we toured the animal exhibits. Our guide told us the names of the animals and some of their interesting backstories. For example, the zoo receives many of its birds from owners who can’t care for them anymore. Also, they rescued Princess, their African serval, from an inhumane breeder. The number of rescued animals on display impressed me and should make any animal-lover feel good about visiting.

Gators!

At the end of the tour, we met one of Wild Florida’s more popular residents: Fluffy, a three-year-old American alligator. We each got to hold Fluffy and take pictures with him. While all guests can pay extra for photos with Fluffy, our photo-op was included in our tour price.

Meet Fluffy the Gator at Wild Florida

After meeting Fluffy, we met some of his larger brothers and sisters, but at a considerable distance. Our guide gave us alligator pellets, which is like dog food for gators, which we then fed to some rather large reptiles. The alligators were quite entertaining, jumping out of the water and rapidly swimming towards the pellets. Like the Fluffy encounter, this experience was part of our tour, though regular guests can purchase their own alligator pellets.

Goodbye, for now

Sadly, this concluded our behind-the-scenes tour at Wild Florida. The only bad aspect of our experience was that I had not known about it before. If I had, I certainly would have skipped a day at the theme parks to experience it. We left feeling like we had all learned something, in addition to having a great time. In fact, we enjoyed it so much that we plan to do it again this summer and meet either a porcupine or lemur on the next tour.

Details

The cost of the tour is $50 per person, and people ages 8 and up are welcome to participate. However, if you want to meet the lemur, the minimum age is 12. The park offers three tours per day, at 10 am, 12 pm, and 2 pm. You must make a reservation to participate.

Additional tours and separate animal encounters are available, but they can book up quickly. To guarantee you get the experience you want, book at least two weeks in advance.

Wild Florida is located off of Lake Cypress Road in Kenansville, Florida, which is less than an hour from Walt Disney World.

To book a tour, contact them toll-free at 866-532-7167. Locals can reach them at 407-901-2563.

You can also book online here.

We also saw these cuties while we were wandering the park. If you want to meet them, you can find them in the petting zoo.

 

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