One of the (many) surprising things about Arizona is the variety of animals and conservation efforts that can be found around the state. There are government-sponsored reserves and private preserves all over the place, almost all of which are open for a visitor or a volunteer. Considering that most of the state is a desert, the variety of animals to be found is rather quite amazing (smile).
Going through some of my photos this weekend, I came across some snaps from a trip to Out of Africa Wildlife Park. One of their tag lines is “Call us wild, Call us crazy…Just don’t call us a zoo!” And although it may appear to have much in common with a zoo, at it’s heart it definitely isn’t one. Most of the animals at the park/preserve have been rescued from various sad situations. The area itself, located north of Phoenix and south of Sedona off I-17, is spacious and well-organized. In many ways the landscape does seem to mirror parts of Africa. It’s quite obvious that the staff love the animals and most everything is done on the animals’ schedules – not for the visitors.
The last time I was there (about a year ago), most of the animals in residents were of a feline nature. One of the biggest draws for the park is called the Tiger Splash – it’s like playing with your cat only on steroids and with/in a giant pool of water. It truly is an amazing thing to watch and so amusing to see just how much these giant felines have in common with my own two lazy furballs (smile)! If you’re ever in the Phoenix area and looking for a fun outdoor activity (with less guilt than a zoo might entail), I encourage you to stop by Out of Africa. All admission fees, etc. go directly back to the animals and I can promise it’s a much closer experience.
(Please note that I have nothing against the Phoenix Zoo – it is also a great adventure and well-kept. Out of Africa is simply a different experience and a good cause to support.)