The Wild Wilderness Drive-through Safari or what is just referred to as the Gentry Safari to the locals is located outside the small town of Gentry, Arkansas. This 180-acre animal park has a hands-on walkthrough area along with a 4-mile drive-through to view the larger animals. The safari is located in an out-of-the way place but signs within the town allow visitors to make their way to this unique animal habitat to spend a fun-filled day among the animals.
Upon first arriving, visitors will notice the petting areas which include fenced in areas that contain the goats and some large turkeys. Adults and children can go right inside the pens to pet and feed the pygmy goats. And just as goats do, they will nibble every little piece of your clothes and shoes. The turkeys aren't as acceptable to being pawed on but the goats enjoy all of the attention. Making your way along the dirt path, other animals including a giraffe, kangaroos, different species of birds, and housing with the lemurs are all available to view (not touch). However, a shaded area behind the birds became the highlight of our day.
Two baby monkeys (still in diapers) were getting their morning bottle and everyone was able to get up-close and personal with the tiny creatures. Small pens with pot-bellied pigs and rabbits were also open for the kids to sit down in the grass and play with the animals. But the highlight was the baby lion. With the aid of a park employee, the kids were able to go in the pen and pet this amazing animal.
As the kids were admiring the lion, the park employee told us that the owner created the animal safari so that visitors could do just what my children were doing - touch and feel the amazement of animals that they might not otherwise get to do. At one point, the drive-through portion of the park also allowed a more close up view but new fencing had to be built as someone had put their hand in an adult lion's cage during the drive and was bitten. Even though there are signs posted to not leave your vehicle or place your hands in the cages, someone had done so. Because of this, visitors cannot get up very close to the larger animals in the drive-through area except those that roam freely like the camels and different species of deer.
We also were able to pet a lemur, touch the giant tortoises, hold a ball python, and take a camel ride. Actually, the kids held the python and rode the camel while I enjoyed watching the kids take in the new experiences. The staff at the safari were all friendly and knowledgeable which made our visit even more enjoyable. Each area was learning experience especially with animals like the emus. Because we were able to get close and touch many of the creatures, we all learned how their coverings felt (feathers and fur) and even how they reacted to people. The emus were quite entertaining especially when they sneezed - not a pretty picture but it did get a lot of giggles from the children.
After spending a couple of hours walking and viewing these animals, we headed out for the drive-through portion of the safari. A word of caution here - this drive is not made for a low-rider type vehicle. It is a rough, rocky ride (unpaved) and vehicles that set low will need to take the drive slowly. From your vehicle you will see many of the larger animals including the tigers. Signs clearly say to not leave your vehicle or even put your windows down during this portion of the safari. At the end of the drive are the prairie dogs which can be seen in multitudes in their area set up just for them.
After our drive, we grabbed some snacks at the concession stand but you can also bring your own lunch and dine at the picnic tables. Out of the many animal parks and zoos we have visited over the years, the Gentry Safari offered the most opportunities for everyone to actually experience the animals rather than just see them. The atmosphere was laid back with peacocks and even some rabbits roaming about with the visitors. There weren't any crowds, the entire experience was quite pleasant. If visiting this area of Northwest Arkansas, I highly recommend taking the family out to visit the Wild Wilderness Drive-Through Safari in Gentry.