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The Short Version: Lion Country Safari is one of South Florida’s most beloved and unique attractions. Since 1967, this park has delighted visitors with drive-through and walk-through tours of its 600-acre wildlife habitats. Lion Country Safari opened as one of the first cageless zoos in the U.S., and its wildlife keepers go to great lengths to ensure the safety and happiness of the animals that live here. Adventuresome couples and families can take a tour of Lion Country Safari to see giraffes, rhinos, wildebeest, and, of course, lions roaming in large, naturalistic habitats.
You may not think of the sunny beaches of South Florida as lion territory, but Lion Country Safari in Loxahatchee defies all expectations. This safari park has packs of lions, flocks of parrots, and herds of giraffes on its 600-acre territory.
Among its most popular and good-looking occupants is Cupid, a 14-year-old giraffe born in the park on Valentine’s Day.
I guess you could say Cupid wears his heart on his sleeve because he just so happens to have a heart-shaped spot on his shoulder. That identifiable mark helps visitors pick him out from the pack, and he’s not above using his crowd appeal to get some extra lettuce during giraffe-feeding events.
Cupid is Lion Country Safari’s breeder bull giraffe, which means he spends a lot of his time, well, sharing the love. All the baby giraffes you see on property are his offspring.
All in all, Cupid’s loving and playful temperament charms everyone who meets him. You can get up close and personal with him and over 1,000 other animals at Lion Country Safari.
In 1967, Lion Country Safari opened as the first cageless zoo in the U.S., and it has proudly maintained savannas, wetlands, jungles, and other spaces where its animals can roam freely. The staff uses the landscape as natural boundaries to different terrains. Guests can walk through or drive through these areas to get a look at 90+ species of mammals, reptiles, birds, and fish.
“It’s important to us to have wide open spaces for our animals,” said Haley Passeser, Public Relations Associate at Lion Country Safari. “We have some of the largest herds of giraffe and zebra on record in the U.S.”
The diversity of animals at Lion Country Safari is truly impressive. You can see a 90-year-old tortoise in one enclosure, and then spot a cockatiel in the trees the next. Gates open promptly at 9:30 a.m. every day, and the animals are usually out and about by then. Pro tip: the wildlife keepers say that rainy days are actually one of the best days to visit because many animals enjoy the wet weather.
Lion Country Safari offers both walk-through and drive-through experiences for one flat admission price, so visitors can take things at their own pace and see animals in person or from the safety of their vehicles. The staff recommends taking an audio tour along if you’re striking out on your own. Plus, Lion Country Safari has an app with extra information relating to the park and its animals.
“You never know what you’re going to see when you go out there,” Haley said. “When you do the drive-through and walk-through experiences, it’s like you’re getting two parks for one price.”
Lion Country Safari organizes VIP tours and special events throughout the year. These exclusive experiences include close-up wildlife encounters and specialty tours. The Giraffe Painting Encounter is a unique event where guests choose three colors and then watch as the giraffes make an abstract painting by holding the brushes in their mouths. Guests get the finished artwork as a souvenir.
Exhibit talks are also interesting and educational activities at Lion Country Safari. You can learn more about specific animals and the caretaking involved in making them happy and comfortable. The wildlife keepers also highlight the importance of conservation.
During Animal Theater Presentations, an animal expert will bring out a friendly animal and tell you everything you could possibly want to know about it. This is a great forum for animal lovers to ask questions and learn something new.
Whether you’re feeding a friendly giraffe or snapping pictures of a herd of zebras, you can trust Lion Country Safari to deliver a memorable, family-friendly experience on every visit.
In 1967, Lion Country Safari made headlines by opening the first cageless zoo in Florida. A group of entrepreneurs wanted to make visitors feel as if they were trekking through Africa and seeing wildlife in their natural habitat. It was an ambitious plan, but it soon became a huge hit.
Florida’s hot climate is perfect for the park’s lions, rhinos, chimpanzees, zebras, and giraffes. These animals have thrived here and been the centerpiece of a four-mile drive-through preserve.
The founders had a vision to create a beautiful place that would make African safaris more accessible to American tourists, and that’s exactly what Lion Country Safari has done.
As it has grown more popular, Lion Country Safari has expanded to add a petting zoo, an aviary, a reptile house, a water sprayground, gift shops, campgrounds, and other walkable attractions to entertain guests as well. Over 50 staff members currently care for the animals in their habitats or at an on-site veterinary hospital, and over 200 people work for Lion Country Safari.
“As a team, we have all different backgrounds, but we all come together to make this place as great as it can be,” Haley said. “It takes a lot of people to run an organization like Lion Country Safari.”
For over 50 years, Lion Country Safari has delivered jaw-dropping and eye-opening sights to visitors of all ages and backgrounds. People come here to experience an African safari without having to travel halfway around the world. It’s the chance of a lifetime, and this wild backdrop makes for some pretty romantic and unforgettable moments.
Since it opened to the public in the 1960s, Lion Country Safari has gotten rave reviews. “What fun we had,” said Mary, who traveled from Indiana to stay at the campground and take a safari. “The highlight was being able to hand-feed the beautiful giraffes. I have never seen so many happy faces, including our own.”
Lion Country Safari has earned a 4.5 star rating on TripAdvisor, and it’s listed as the #1 thing to do in Loxahatchee. “I’ve driven through Lion Country Safari a number of times and always get just as excited as the first time,” said one reviewer. “Each time is different. Once we had two rhinoceros locking horns in front of our vehicle.”
Many vacationers and day-trippers head to the safari to experience something they can’t see everyday. Some couples even choose to celebrate anniversaries, make surprise proposals, or even host their weddings at this wild destination.
“When we started planning our wedding, we knew we wanted something that celebrated our love of nature,” said Valerie, who married her now-husband David at Lion Country Safari. “Everyone had a great time, and I have some great pictures and memories of my unique wedding. People are still talking about it.”
Haley said she remembered one special proposal where the staff arranged a private tour and the boyfriend had his kids pull out signs that read “Will you marry us?” The bride-to-be was totally shocked and joyfully said yes.
“Not everybody gets that type of proposal,” Haley said. “Lion Country Safari is a great opportunity to do something different and have this touching moment with the whole family.”
Anyone who visits Lion Country Safari can see what a remarkable place it is. From the moment you walk in and hear squirrel monkeys chattering or lions roaring, you have an immersive animal experience that you can’t find anywhere else in the concrete jungles of South Florida.
Couples can treat themselves to a special date exploring the plains and walking trails and taking in the amazing sights. Whether you’re feeding Cupid a head of lettuce or watching a herd of wildebeest run across your path, Lion Country Safari is full of unforgettable sights and sounds.
Wildlife education and conservation is at the heart of everything Lion Country Safari does. Haley told us the team’s mission is to encourage children, teenagers, and adults to fall in love with the animals here and to carry a greater appreciation for the amazing diversity of creatures sharing the planet.
“We want to foster connections between people and animals, and we want to foster connections between people and people,” she said. “That’s really important to us.”