Get up close and personal with some of the exotic Florida wildlife that makes our state so unique.
Have you ever visited Wild Florida? With its Gator Park, airboat tours, petting zoo, drive-thru Safari experience and so much more, a day at Wild Florida is the perfect adventure for the whole family.
At Wild Florida, there are a TON of amazing experiences to participate in and over 200 animals to interact with. We sat down with Sam Haught, a founder of Wild Florida, to chat about how the park got started, what guests can expect when they visit, and what the future holds for Wild Florida:
Q: How did Wild Florida get started?
The gator and wildlife park started when my family got our father, Ranier Munns, a water buffalo calf for Christmas one year. That calf ignited a fire and soon our family had a ranch in St. Cloud full of exotics. We knew we were onto something because we had people stopping on the side of the road to see the animals on the property.
Our ranch house became known as the “zebra house” to anyone who lived in the St. Cloud area. As native Floridians, our family always dreamed of owning the most pristine and exciting ecotourism attraction in Orlando. After years of searching for the perfect location, we discovered the beautiful shores of Cypress Lake in June of 2010 at the headwaters of the Everglades — and Wild Florida was born!
Q: How is Wild Florida different from a regular zoo?
The main difference is that our zoo is drive-thru friendly. At Wild Florida, you can drive your own car through our Safari Park! This self-guided tour allows guests to see more than 150 exotic animals and native Florida wildlife like wildebeest, bison, elk, zebras, watusi, oryx, and more. Check out a massive pond inside the park dedicated exclusively as a home for all “nuisance” alligators, trapped by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. Stop and hand feed the park’s incredible giraffes for a once-in-a-lifetime experience on a feeding platform high above the Safari Park with beautiful views you can’t see anywhere else!
Q: What are some of the kid-friendly activities offered at Wild Florida?
With so many different experiences and activities available, there’s something for everyone at Wild Florida. Kids love to visit our amazing Gator Park full of tropical birds, lemurs, crocodiles, a petting zoo, albino gators, sloths, ‘Crusher’ the monster alligator and much more. With over 200 native and exotic animals, visiting the park is an experience like no other!
Kids can explore the Hawk Swamp boardwalk through a pristine Florida cypress swamp ecosystem, learn and be entertained in one of the park’s many animal shows, and even get hands-on during an unbelievable animal encounter with their choice of sloths, lemurs, porcupines, anteaters or gators. It’s an adventure they’ll never forget, and we’re proud to offer this amazing experience right here in Orlando!
Q: What are some of the adult-friendly activities offered at Wild Florida?Kids and adults alike can travel deep into the protected swamps, marshes and rivers that make up the Headwaters of the Everglades aboard one of our Airboat Tours. Where else can you get an in-depth look at gators, birds, eagles, trees and plants as you glide through endless miles of beautiful wilderness? It seems almost impossible to imagine what Florida looked like 1,000 years ago, but when you visit the Wild Florida wilderness, you can see it for yourself.
Q: What are some of the special events that take place at Wild Florida?
In addition to all the usual attractions, we have special events throughout the year. One of the most exciting weeks at the park is Gator Week, which is towards the last week of May.
During Gator Week, everyone gets FREE admission to the Gator Park! We also have daily shows, like the Exotic Animal Show where visitors can see different types of crocodilians, the Gator Feeding Show where guests can learn about gators’ favorite foods, and the Crusher Show where gators show off their strength and “crush” some bigger food items. To top it all off, the Celery City Band also plays live music on Friday and Saturday of Gator Week.
The whole week leads up to the main event: a HUGE birthday party to celebrate National Alligator Day! We love going all out with balloons, cupcakes, contests and special activities at this awesome celebration!
Q: Thanks for sitting down for this interview with us! Anything else you want to add?
Wild Florida was born out of my family’s love for the Florida outdoors. Founding the park was a natural extension of our passion for showing visitors and locals alike just how incredible Florida’s wildlife is.
We always say it’s taken a full 10 years to build Wild Florida and we’ll never be done! Having just acquired 185 acres of land to add to the park, we can only imagine how incredible Wild Florida will be in another ten years and we can’t wait for everyone to see it. We hope you get the chance to visit us for a WILD adventure at Wild Florida soon!
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