Trivia question: The largest wildlife conservation center in North America, a place where African, Asian, and North American species roam freely on over 9,000 acres, is in what U.S. state?
Did you guess Florida, California, or somewhere with way better weather than middle-of-nowhere Ohio? You’re wrong. The answer is Ohio (middle-of-nowhere Ohio, to be exact).
Last week we drove approximately 3 hours from Cincinnati to visit The Wilds, the largest wildlife conservation center in North America. Though it’s partnered with the Columbus Zoo, there’s nothing zoo-like about it — all the animals roam freely in open pastures. The only way to see them is through scheduled bus tours, which drive you through the pastures for 2 hours like you’re on a safari (or at Jurassic Park). They have open-air buses for the authentic safari experience, but since it was 90+ degrees F (33C) on the day we went, we opted for the “climate-controlled” buses. I put “climate-controlled” in quotation marks because whatever air-conditioning system they had on board did not seem to be working and I was a hot, sweaty mess by the end of the tour. If you want to get up close and personal with the animals (and have $125 burning a hole in your pocket), you can take the Wildside Tour. We first encountered a Wildside truck being surrounded by Persian onagers.
As we circled back around our bus met the same fate.
They were everywhere! Apparently they were attracted to the bus because the exhaust kept the flies off them. Two of them parked themselves right in front of our bus and would not move.
Our driver had to call Animal Management to come and lure them away so we could continue on with the tour.
We got off the bus for a bit to see the parakeets and some other animals.
They were feeding the African painted dogs while we were there.
Zebra (with a less impressive wiener than the zebra we saw in San Diego. Sorry, it had to be said!)
From a distance we saw the ostrich harassing the Wildside Tour, so we knew he was gonna be fun.
He kept trying to stick his head in our driver’s little window.We had a great view!
How often do you get to see an ostrich and a giraffe together?
Southern white rhino
Scimitar-horned oryx have wicked horns!They’re native to North Africa and still thought it was way too hot in Ohio.
Baby scimitar-horned oryx with tiny horns!
Almost all my photos were taken from the bus, so you can see how close we were able to get to a lot of the animals. If you ever find yourself in middle-of-nowhere Ohio, I highly recommend a visit to The Wilds. Just maybe not on one of the hottest days of the year.