When I was asked to check out the Safari North Wildlife Park in Brainerd, I jumped at the chance.
First, I have spent my entire life passing through Brainerd and I had no idea something so cool would be hiding in plain sight (I mean, besides Paul and Babe), and second, I will look for any excuse to see animals.
Located just off MN-371 in Crow Wing County, the Safari North Wildlife Park is a private zoo and conservation center.
Owners Kevin and Kelly Vogel have spent their lives around exotic animals.
They brought their knowledge and know-how to Brainerd, creating a place that offers visitors up-close views of some of the most incredible (and well taken care of) animals in the world.
They also offer a few unique experiences you have to try for yourself.
I’m not kidding.
I got to feed giraffes carrots, pet a camel named Nick (he was born around Christmas), feed cows and goats, pretend I was a miner and pan for gold, wave at a bear who was likely more interested in the butterfly behind me, and be a Disney princess for ten minutes while hundreds of sweet little parakeets perched all over me. They just hung out. It was awesome.
There are far too many animals to list so here are a few by region:
Animals from North America: raccoon, skunk, sandhill crane, North American porcupine, gray fox, fox squirrels, turkeys, grizzly bears, nene geese, cougar, bobcat, lynx, alligator (they have 35!), wolf, black bear, coyote, coatimundi, prairie dog town, whitetail deer, owl, and bald eagle.
Animals from Africa; giraffe, flamingo, camel (which you can ride, by the way) addax, striped hyena, warthog, stork, sliver cheeked hornbill, patas monkey, East African crowned crane, crested porcupine, ibis, trumpeter hornbill, pied crow, lovebirds, spurred tortoise, fennec fox (they are unbelievably adorable), black back jackal, eland, zebra, ostrich, sable, scimitar oryx, kudu, and wildebeest. Animals from Asia: blackbuck antelope, nilgai antelope, water buffalo, fallow deer, black leopard, spotted leopard, java macaque, muntjac deer, white Bengal tigers, and an orange Bengal tiger.
Animals from South America: rhea, llama, alpaca, prehensile tail porcupine, severe macaw, kinkajou, brahama, and macaws.
Animals from Australia: kangaroo, wallaby, kookaburra, parakeet, Eclectus parrot, masked lapwings, and emu.
With amenities like the Safari North Snack Shack where you and get a pulled pork sandwich, pizza or any other day-in-the-park nutriment, and a fun gift shop where a resident corgi lives, it is the perfect place to hang out for the day.
I highly recommend you go out of your way to stop here.
The season runs now through September 27. Open 7 days a week from 9:00 am to 6:00 pm.
Admission for Adults is $15.99, Children 2-12 years old is $10.99
They also have four different season passes.
Find more information here.