What to Expect / FAQs
A: No, we do not allow dogs or outside animals at the park at anytime. The majority of the animals at the park are prey species. Dogs were evolved from the wild canines that prey on these species in the wild therefore the animals have an inherent fear of these animals regardless of how your dog or animal reacts to them. The Bison and Zebras are one of the few species that will attack dogs in order to defend themselves, could you imagine a bison or zebra chasing you trying to harm your dog inside your vehicle? Many of the species at the park have a extreme "flight response", this means with a simple loud noise a gazelle will flee in the opposite direction and run as hard as possible regardless of what is in the animals path. Often times in these situations the animals with high "flight response" injure themselves on fencing or other obstacles. Federal Law also makes it illegal for us to knowingly put our animals in danger of psychological or physical harm due to the Animal Welfare Act of 1972. This does not mean we are afraid your dog will injure our animals - it's probably the other way around. Dogs and prey species are a recipe for disaster in zoos and we have no interest in risking the well being of our animals for someone else's sake. The park animals live here and we do our ultimate best to make them our #1 priority.
Q: Will I have enough time to tour the whole park if i come at 4 pm?
A: No, the last car enters the park at 4 pm and the park closes its gates at 5 pm. The drive through alone takes at least 1 hour to go through the park, depending on the time of year, many visitors spend an hour as well in the walk through section. So to tour the entire park, most visitors are here from 2-2.5 hours.
Q: Is there a "car load" price?
A: No, we have never offered "car load" price, we are unaware of any park in the United States that offers this.
Q: I saw a baby alone in the park, did the mother "abandon" it?
A: More than likely no, very few of our animals ever have to be "bottle raised". We purposely do our very best to promote strong maternal herd bonds with all the animals. Once a particular animal is hand raised it can normally never live a normal life with species of its own because of its lack of taught herd social dynamics that only its mother can teach. Almost all deer and antelope leave their babies, the babies have a strong instinct to lie still and low until the mother returns to feed them periodically. The babies will remain hidden for the first few weeks until they have enough strength to keep up with their mothers. We do intervene in the rare case of an actual "abandoned" newborn.
Q: I've heard the Ostrich and Emus are aggressive, is that true?
A: No, the Ostrich's and Emu's are not aggressive. The birds are simply looking for feed from the visitors in the white cups. They "know" the cars driving through the park have feed so they readily come to the vehicles looking for these "treats". Some visitors are scared and pull the cup inside with the windows...naturally the birds will stick their heads inside to eat the feed that they just pulled inside. Yes, they are very messy! If you wish to feed the birds, feed from your cup only and hold outside of your vehicle. If you do not like the birds or are scared of them, simply roll up your window....problem solved. These birds do not "fight" with their beaks. They fight with their feet! Have you ever seen Jurassic Park? The Velociraptors "fly kick" was replicated from the movements of Ostrich and Emus! We have never seen Ostrich's or Emu's do this at the park, literally thousands have been raised by the owners without ever experiencing an injury. These birds have been domesticated for hundreds of years in captivity, although they are still animals and unpredictable. Any animal with mouth can bite you!
Q: There are so many animals at the park, where do all the babies go?
A: We work with almost every major zoo and breeding center in the United States and many abroad! We focus on rare and endangered species, zoos call us almost daily asking for availability of our species. Many zoos do not breed their species, especially hoofed species for a variety of reasons. Mostly due to the fact that they do not have the room to accommodate breeding and natural herd behaviors, this means they rely on parks like us to supply them with species. The park still has over 250 acres accessible to increase our animal collection and we intend on growing more than ever in the future. Many species are in dire situations and in our lifetime we will see the extinction of 3 species of Rhino and numerous species of wildlife around the world. The human population is exploding around the world and taking more and more of the wilds of the world. In fact, their are truly very few "wild" places left on earth...many agree there are only 5 areas of the world that can be described as "wild"...the Alaskan Tundra, Canada's Boreal Forest, Australian Desert, Brazil's Amazon and various areas of Russia. Most of the documentaries filmed in Africa are done so on game farms, they purposely don't video the fences for the illusion of the "wild". Many of the species born here will remain here for the rest of their lives with their herds :)
Q: Is the park a sanctuary or rescue for animals?
A: No, we do not rescue animals at the park. We are a major breeding center and our animals are requested for reintroduction projects and for display at the best zoos in the world, constantly! Many of our species are in coordinated breeding programs with zoo associations. We focus our main attention to rare and endangered species that can be reintroduced to the wild, when the time comes. It is illegal to possess at any time native animals, we do not take in "abandoned" white tail deer, the state will impose some very serious fines and imprisonment for such actions. There is a strong probability that many people have not found an "abandoned" fawn...all deer and most antelope leave their babies hidden or "tucked" away. They return and feed them until they are strong enough to venture with their mothers, if you don't see the mother deer...that is the point. Fox, coyotes etc are attracted to her so the mother destroys any scent of herself so that predators don't eat her baby and only come to the baby to feed periodically and consume any scent of herself or the baby.
Q: Is the feed sold to the visitors all the animals consume?
A: No, the feed that is sold to the public is less than 5% of the safari animals consumption intake, during our "slow season" the feed would make up less than 1% of the animals consumption. Just to give you a quick idea we feed 18,000 lbs of grain, 24,000 lbs of hay and forage etc per WEEK regardless if visitors come or not, that's only the hoofed species! Animals DO NOT ever have to compete for food here. Animals are purposely put in their particular sections through decades of research and animal behavior studies. Some species are housed separately with their own species, this is due to the species not being able to coexist with other species, in the park. It may seem random how various species are grouped socially but we assure you a great deal of research went into the social grouping dynamics.
Q: Why aren't there any ponds for the majority of the animals?
A: Ponds are aesthetically pleasing to humans, they are not suitable for zoos and major breeding centers. Anyone who has ever worked on a farm knows the first thing a large animal does when visiting a pond...urinate, defecate then turn around and drink. Obviously, this is not conducive to healthy animals, take in our case the situation is magnified by literally hundreds of animals doing this multiple times per day, there would be many very sick animals. This is ok for domestic species under low population numbers that have evolved to have natural resistance to bacteria and viral concerns etc...the animals at the park are held in "intensive management" areas. This means a large number of animals are in an limited area(they are supplemented large amounts of feed and forage), if we had ponds for the animals these "intensive management areas" we simply would not be able to keep them healthy. You will see black "dry feed troughs" throughout the park and yellow plastic waterers that say "auto water" throughout the park. The "dry feed troughs" are used by the staff for salts, minerals and feed supplementation they also use these to medicate animals, this makes the staffs job much easier and less stressful for the animals. The "auto water" supplies cool fresh clean drinking water at all times(they are sanitized constantly by the staff), the supply lines are 2" and are rated with the highest amount of pressure possible(a herd of elephants could drink from one of the smallest containers and never reach the bottom of the automatic waterers). These waterers can also be medicated, when needed. The animals in the park have little to no resistance to bacteria and various parasites so our team of biologist constantly keep a check on fecal examinations to determine possible parasite infestations. The various drugs used in preventative and treatment of the animals are weighed in grams, the water consumption mixture is dosed in ounces....could you imagine trying to dose a pond with drugs in grams by the fluid ounce...literally impossible?!
Q: I didn't see a certain animal, can the employees get the certain animal out of the barn or housing?
A: All of our animals come and go as they please, weather dependent. Unlike zoos that lock the animals out of their indoor areas during the day we allow full access to wherever they like, weather dependent. Our primates for example indoor areas are temperature and humidity controlled at all times maintaining a 75 degrees environment. The park maintains one of the largest primate collections on the east coast, if you didn't see a particular animal they are probably snoozing inside in their cozy indoor area or taking a nap in their hammocks indoors :)
Q: Do the animals come out if it rains or if it's cool outside?
A: Yes, the animals are still active if it rains depending on the severity of the rain or cold. Some species are locked indoors if temps fall below 50 degrees and raining. A common misconception is African species are cold intolerant, this is not accurate. Most of the species here at the park have been born and raised here for over 65 years. In South Africa for example, the temps can go as low as -4 degrees Fahrenheit! The majority of the species raised here are selected for their adaptability to this environment, multiple generations of the various species can be seen in our herds some species are in their 14th generation at the park!
Q: Do you all except donations?
A: No, we are 100% funded by our wonderful visitors and the Conley Family. We are extremely proud to be one of the few parks in the United States that does not accept donations or tax payer funding. We are able to keep low overhead by being a family owned and operated farm. The entire family works 365 days a year with little to no compensation from the park revenues. This helps the park maintain and grow without tax payer funding. The park brings over $9 million dollars per year in economic tourism impact for our area, instead of being a liability we are a major asset to our community! Most zoos in the United States operate almost solely on tax dollars, regardless if the tax payers visit or not. Many of the major city zoos in this country compensate their executive employees from $200,000-$900,000 per year...this is just one example of many of the waste from "non profit - government funded" zoos! You may need to think twice when donating to these institutions...go to www.guidestar.org to see tax returns from these zoos begging for your donations...it will make for interesting reading material(Spoiler Alert: The money doesn't go to the animals).
Q: Why do you not accept credit cards at the gate?
A: The merchant processing fees for handling the card transaction would cost us an additional $70,000-$90,000 from the credit card companies. The card companies have given the American public the illusion that there is no cost to accepting these cards because your not charged from your account...this is wrong you are still paying the fee except the merchant is getting charged thus making your product or service higher in order to accept the payment. These cards cost the American public $162 billion dollars, according to the latest figures. We have little options in this situation...charge the fee to the visitor (which creates anger due to this being not normal procedure), increase our charge of admission(this poses another anger issue as well as making the credit card companies making even more money) or we can pay the additional $70,000-$90,000 in "merchant charges" which would give us a less desirable product and service at the park...we decided we have grown the business since 2007 considerably more than industry projections and there is no need to help the credit card companies while doing so.