Lion Country Safari is an amusement park located in Loxahatchee, near Wellington, in Palm Beach County, Florida.
The amusement park was created by a consortium of British and South African businessmen back in 1967 and initially only featured lions although that has since been expanded to include other species today. Originally, the amusement park’s owners were able to claim that this was the first ‘cageless zoo’ experience that the USA was able to offer and they subsequently went on to open 5 further similar amusement parks in other locations around the USA between 1967 and 1974 although the other 5 have since been closed.
Today, there are over 1, 000 animals residing at the amusement park and, in addition to lions, there are also chimpanzees, zebra, rhinoceros and giraffe. Apart from the lions and chimpanzees, which are kept segregated behind both fence and water barriers, the rest of the animals are allowed to roam freely throughout the amusement park giving you the chance to experience close-up encounters with them. Up until 2005, the lions were also allowed their freedom to roam throughout the amusement park but this practice ceased as the result of car owners ignoring warning signs about keeping their doors closed and their windows up. In addition to being able to observe the animals, an audio CD is also provided so that visitors can learn more about the different species as they drive slowly through the amusement park.
Animal experts have also gained a lot of knowledge about the chimpanzees at the amusement park because of the unique habitat in which they dwell. As they are nomadic in nature, they live within an island system in which they are moved to a different island each day so they are, in effect, able to replicate their unique natural lifestyle in which various complex social groups are formed. In doing this, the amusement park tends to be a focal point for experts who are keen to gain a greater insight into the behavioural traits of chimpanzees.
The amusement park is also a refuge sanctuary for chimpanzees that have previously been used in both entertainment arenas and in research laboratories.
In addition to the ‘safari’ element of the amusement park, the adjoining ‘Safari World’ is a more conventional amusement park facility featuring a Ferris wheel, a giraffe feeding exhibit, a petting zoo and a small water park. It has also become a captive breeding ground to a number of other endangered species such as the gibbon ape and southern white rhino and the amusement park also takes in other injured wildlife species and rehabilitates them, where possible, before releasing them back into the wild. Their brown pelican programme is a good example of this.
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