Phoenix is no slouch when it comes to great zoos. There's Phoenix Zoo, the largest privately owned zoo in the United States. And on the west side of town, there's Wildlife World Zoo and Aquarium, which boasts the largest collection of wild and endangered species in Arizona.
Wildlife World Zoo and Aquarium just celebrated its 30th anniversary in operation, and what better way to celebrate than with a new exhibit? After years of planning, and a $3 million price tag, the zoo just opened the doors to a new Safari Park. The park - which increases the zoo's exhibit space to roughly 80 acres - gives visitors an intimate look at some of Africa's most popular species.
Visitors look on at Safari Park's new animals — Photo courtesy of Wildlife World Zoo & Aquarium
The new Safari Park has dozens of shaded viewing areas with panoramic views, perfect for snapping pictures of wildebeests, greater kudu antelope, rock badgers, Watusi cattle and dama gazelles. There's also a new African lion habitat, where visitors can watch the zoo's young female white lion explore the grounds every day from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Zookeepers plan to spend the next year introducing the young lion to the park's older lion, which will be sharing the exhibit.
Visitors are also able to catch a glimpse of several rare African birds. The zoo says it plans to introduce cheetahs to the park later this year.
One of the biggest attractions at Safari Park is a trio of olive baboons. These Old World monkeys can grow to weigh as much as 100 pounds. The baboons are the first in the zoo's 30-year history. Rounding out the park are a pair of African Jackals. Like their coyote counterparts of the Sonoran Desert, jackals are known for foraging on small animals and plant matter.
Wildlife World Zoo & Aquarium in Phoenix is celebrating its 30th anniversary with the opening of a new 15-acre Safari Park — Photo courtesy of Wildlife World Zoo & Aquarium
Visitors to Safari Park can stroll through the grounds, or for an additional fee, take a tram ride through roughly a half dozen animal exhibits. Entrance to the Safari Park is located near the popular giraffe feeding station; admission is included with general admission.
If all the sightseeing makes you hungry, a new cafe called Safari Grill sells snacks and drinks inside the park.
Wildlife World Zoo and Aquarium is located in Litchfield Park, approximately 30 minutes from downtown Phoenix. Zoo exhibits are open daily from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., with the last admission at 5 p.m. Special reduced evening admission is available after 5 p.m., but only includes admission to the aquarium. The zoo is open seven days a week and 365 days a year.