14000 International Road
Cumberland Ohio 43732United States
If a safari isn't in the budget this year, a trip to The Wilds may be the next best thing.
This 10,000-acre conservation center is among the largest in the world and is home to a number of rare and endangered species. Hop on an open-air safari transport or a closed, air-conditioned vehicle to see rhinos, giraffes, zebras, trumpeter swans and American bison. This is exponentially more satisfying than simply viewing animals in a zoo and provides an educational but fun outing for kids. You'll hardly notice any physical boundaries in this open-range habitat, which heightens the sense that you have just gone out for a drive and stumbled upon these amazing creatures. If you choose to take the closed safari transport, you can jump on and off the buses, which go by every 15 minutes. This allows you to linger at the animals that you are most interested in and just pass by those you aren't. There are four main stops: Mid-Sized Carnivore Conservation Center; Wetlands; Lake Trail; and the Outpost. Mid-Sized Carnivore Conservation Center is a 60-acre site focused on breeding programs and scientific study of endangered species such as cheetahs, African wild dogs and dholes (wild dogs native to India and Southeast Asia). Elevated boardwalks and an observation deck allow a close-up view. The cheetahs are a big hit with kids. Stop for lunch on one of the observation decks, which provides an opportunity to enjoy the tranquility of the area. A veterinary center is here, and if you time your visit just right, you may see a vet tending an animal. Wetlands have an elevated boardwalk system, giving visitors the opportunity to view the wildlife below. Lake Trail leads to Spillman Lake, the largest of the 100 or so lakes on the property. Several demonstration areas educate visitors about conservation projects, including one to create a more diverse ecosystem that would attract grassland birds and other wildlife. Don't be surprised to look up here and find a giraffe staring at you. The Outpost has a gazebo-like structure on a raised platform that overlooks the grasslands. It's an opportunity to see many species of antelope, herds of white rhinos and other wildlife behaving much as they would in their natural habitat. The Wilds is the only facility in the world with a third generation of white rhinos born in captivity. The Wilds is fun for families, but also offers adults-only activities, most notably the new luxury camping experience at Nomad Ridge. The yurt camping starts around $300 per night and includes dinner and breakfast for two. Although many people visit The Wilds each year, there are no huge crowds clamoring to view the animals, which is so often the case at a zoo. Finally, the day-long adventure is relatively inexpensive, with admission running from $20 for adults to just $15 for children ages 4 to 12. Children under 3 are free. An open-air safari is $27 for all ages.