Safari Wilderness Ranch provides families with up-close exotic animal experience from car in Lakeland

Polk County

LAKELAND, Fla. (WFLA) – It’s difficult to fly across the world right now, but, in Polk County, you can at least feel like you’re driving through it.

At Safari Wilderness Ranch, families can glide through its near-300 acre property, and watch as animals from faraway continents approach their window with astonishing proximity.

“This is an experiment we call ‘agritourism,'” said General Manager Jack West, before offering some grapes to a family of lemurs. “This park closely resembles the (African and Asian) ecotype, so a lot of those animals do very well here. We are in the green swamp in Lakeland, so we need animals that do well in that.”

The star-studded cast includes water buffaloes, antelopes, zebras, camels, and, of course, the high-flying lemurs, who he claims are misrepresented in film.

“They are matriarchal, so, if you’ve seen ‘Madagascar,’ a big falsehood in that movie is that there would be no King Julien. It’d be King Julia running the pack.”

In a year that saw in-person educational opportunities diminish, this is just one example of how this opportunity to meet these animals can compensate for lost days in the classroom. Not to mention, you get to leave the house.

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