Zoos that Let Humans Live on the Wild Side

by  Zoë Mintz | Aug 24, 2012
Monkey / molishka1988/iStock

The Philadelphia Zoo’s resident orangutans were recently awarded some newfound freedom to roam.  Using a set of enclosed trails, called the Great Ape Trail, the orangutans can travel around the zoo property at will, suspended above visitor walkways. Lemurs and small monkeys at the zoo have been doing this for a year on their Treetop Trail. The Philadelphia Zoo is not alone in letting some of their tenants roam the grounds. Other zoos around the world have made similar concessions to their primate inhabitants. In fact, some let their animals roam freely among their human guests.

At the Singapore Zoo, you can share breakfast with an orangutan. Visitors can buy a fruit platter and enjoy their morning meal with the apes. In another area of the zoo, guests can feed kangaroos. There are also giant free-range enclosures with flying foxes, mousedeer, bats, and lemurs that allow visitors to experience rainforest life.

Australia’s Werribee Open Range Zoo and England’s Whipsnade Zoo immerse their guests even further in the animal kingdom. Both zoos have overnight programs where visitors sleep in luxury accommodations near the animals and have private tours of the property before the general public arrives.

Parc Safari just outside of Montreal allows visitors to drive through the wildlife reserve, letting giraffes, zebras, ostriches, buffalos, and more than 800 other kinds of animals come right up to the cars’ windows, open trunks, and sunroofs. Petting and feeding are allowed, but watch out for the impatient zebras!

Six Flags Great Adventure in Jackson, New Jersey has a similar feature. However, the park’s drive-through Wild Safari, which has been in operation since 1974, is closing early this year and will re-open next season as a guided tour.  Visitors to the park have until September 30 to experience the safari adventure in their own vehicles.

Check out some of the shenanigans that probably led Six Flags to end their drive-through safari (Warning: lower the volume on your speakers before hitting play).


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