OUT OF AFRICA WILDLIFE PARK, CAMP VERDE, ARIZONA
Did you know you could go on a safari in the United States? In fact we have recently done it: at Out of Africa located in Camp Verde, Arizona. It is incredibly similar to a true safari experience. You get to ride in an actual safari vehicle as you drive through double gates to see the free-roaming exotic wild animals, birds, and reptiles. It is as you would expect to see when going on safari in Africa. Most of the animals living on this preserve have been rescued but all have different stories, and they are all wild animals and not tame pets. My husband, Sandor Havasi, and I decided to get some photos of these animals to share our experience better. We have had the privilege of visiting and have seen this facility a few times before, and each time it is a new adventure. Scott Williams was our safari guide, who pointed out different animals at each stop and helped us to learn more about these incredible creatures including:
“Chalet”–a Siberian white tiger, “Kobo” Reticulated giraffe, “Diligence” Grant’s zebra, sable antelope, ostrich, “Sedona” – a ring-tailed lemur, “Jericho”- Southern white rhinoceros, “Enoch”-Black Leopard, Patagonian cavy, and “Chobi”-Gemsbok, “Wilbur”- prehensile-tailed porcupine, “Cypress”-Grizzly Bear, “Chipa” and “Chitabe” -spotted Hyenas, “Humphrey” – Dromedary Camel, “Nairobi”- sable Antelope, “Kanab”- Gray Wolf, “Tambua” – Gaboon Viper, “Jag and Bently” – Marmoset Monkeys, and “Fisher” – Spectacled Caiman.
Our guide had raw meat and biscuits that he threw closer to our vehicle, which he explained would bring the animals for nicer photographs. There are other opportunities to see predator feedings of the larger animals usually three days a week. If you are lucky to be there on a “feed day,” you can really see these animals’ instincts and responses to “food possession.” It is an incredible sight to see the African lions roaring and hyenas laughing as they chew large parts of carcasses with bones right before your eyes! We were able to have our own hands on moment when our guide fed the giraffe and then allowed us to do so too!
But what makes our experience even better was getting to see how much they care for their animals and for educating people about these amazing creatures. Conservation is an integral component of Out of Africa Wildlife Park’s mission: “to preserve, protect, and provide for the animals, both in their care and abroad.” Conservation is something we value highly and it is encouraging to see how the Out of Africa Wildlife Park puts that into action. They have several programs where staff, students and volunteers get to participate and help preserve and provide for these animals. It wasn’t hard to notice how beautiful these animals are and even how healthy their coats appear. You can tell they eat well and are well cared for. In contrast, when we were on a safari in the Serengeti, the wild animals we saw had many scars on their coats from fights and predator attacks.
The park opens to the public every day at 10 in the morning. After the tour, you can hike around the perimeter of each of the preserves to get a closer look at the animals and to take photos from the picture platforms. For those who don’t want to hike or who are unable to, there are also opportunities to see these animals up close using the trams. One of the latest features of the park is the Predator Zip Line that allows you to zip across using a cable and harness and you can view the park with its animals from above. The terrain and vegetation are similar to what you experience in Africa in the Serengeti.
During lunch time, two of the wildlife assistants brought us “Melanie,” a Amelanistic Burmese Python, and talked a bit about her and other pythons while they allowed us to pet her. Following lunch, we attended a “show.” However, the animals are not trained so the “shows” are different from seeing trained animals because they are not actually
performing but interacting and playing and splashing with other animals and with wildlife assistants. In other words, you get to see their natural responsive behavior—which is really beautiful.
We highly encourage you to have your own safari adventure and visit Out of Africa. We really admire their work because they focus on a rescue mission, allowing the animals to live more freely in large spaces, and they are devoted to conservation and education. Visit their website at: www.outofafricapark.com to learn more.