Friday, July 1, 2011

Jungle Adventures

Interesting roadside attractions aren't as common as they used to be.  We're lucky to have one less than an hour from our house: Jungle Adventures Nature Park.  Papa Kevin and I took Bren for her first visit a couple weeks ago.

For a small park, they pack in a ton of entertainment and education!  Their website, , gives a great description of what they offer:

"Real Real as it Gets!
Jungle Adventures Nature Animal Park is the natural habitat jungle home of our famous 200 foot long roadside wonder, Swampy, the World's Largest Alligator. Come and experience Live Guided Wildlife Encounters with Rare Florida Panthers, Black Bears, Gray Wolves, White-Tailed Deer, Tropical Birds, Reptiles and Mammals. Take a Jungle Swamp Cruise and be surrounded by more than Two Hundred Alligators. They'll come chompin' and you'll come stompin' to our Jumpin' Gator Jamboree Gator Feeding. See how Spanish Conquistadores lived in the 16th Century at our Replica Spanish Fort and go on a Live Guided Exploration of our Native American Indian Village Replica. It's all so close to civilization...yet still a world apart."

We began our tour at the Indian Village Replica.  Safari Todd was our guide and I'm pretty sure he's a walking encyclopedia of all things Florida.

His lecture was fast paced and entertaining.  I love when Bren is having fun and learning, but doesn't even realize education is involved. (you will be surprised when you find out the height of our native population!)

After our tour of the Indian village, Safari Todd went to get lunch ready for the alligators and we went to look at some of their other animals. 

I really like their system for feeding the animals.  There is a tube from the railing where you are standing that runs into the animal's cage.  You're actually feeding them instead of throwing things at them!  Bren's favorite was the macaque.  It had a great personality and seemed to enjoy the interaction with people.

Soon it was time to see the alligator feeding.  Having spent most of my life in Florida, this was something I'd seen before.  I'd just never seen it like this: He gets in the water with them!!!!!  He promised us some good pictures if it went well, and some even better ones if it didn't!

After we watched Safari Todd not get eaten, we took a boat ride around the park.  The views were beautiful.

During our last show of the day, we got some hands on time with the animals.  Each person gets to hold a baby alligator and have their picture taken.  They turn your pictures into a magnet that you can purchase.  The proceeds go to fund their educational programs.  Ours made a lovely addition to the picture collection on the refrigerator.  After the alligator, you can take as many pictures as you'd like.

I even (in the spirit of education and not wanting to look like a sissy in front of my child) held a tarantula!

Safari Todd told us about the non-native animals living wild in Florida and the negative impact they have on our ecosystem.  I was a little nervous to learn that he had helped remove a very large python about 2 miles from our house!  (I now look for little & big snakes in the yard)

Bren's favorite activity of the day was feeding the baby alligators.  She loves fishing, so this version was right up her alley.  You put pieces of hot dog on a "fishing rod", lower them into the water and watch the little guys go. 

We really enjoyed our day at Jungle Adventures.  Safari Todd was an excellent guide (Bren loves meeting people who can answer all her questions).  I would definitely recommend a visit to any locals who haven't been yet (or like me since elementary school)and those visiting the sunshine state.  I'm planning on fitting a return visit into our home school curriculum next year.

1 comment:

  1. Looks like you had a great time...and you are both VERY BRAVE with those snakes, spiders, etc. :) Thank you again for the gifts you sent me...pendant, photos, DVD and the packaged rice and pancake mix. We are making the rice tonight! It looks delish! xoxo Love ya, Kim