Wildlife World Zoo, Aquarium & Safari Park’s GRAND Reopening set for September 3rd, 2020, Just in Time for Labor Day Weekend!!
Wildlife World Zoo, Aquarium & Safari Park announces they will be reopening September 3rd, 2020, just in time for Labor Day Weekend! Officials from the family friendly institution have announced their reopening plans to welcome visitors back to the park, after being closed over 5 months due to the COVID-19 pandemic. According to Kristy Morcom, Director of Media Relations, “This has been an unprecedented time in the zoo’s history, as both the closure and the challenges caused by the economic downturn and pandemic, impacted our ability to serve the community”. With the Grand Reopening, there will be several safety measures and operational changes at the Zoo, including required masks for staff and visitors, informative signage throughout the zoo encouraging safety/social distancing, social distance ride seating, along with complete ride sanitation after every rider and dozens of sanitizing stations installed throughout the 100-acres. “We are grateful for the continued support from the public, even while our gates have been closed. It brings me much joy, that the time has come that we can responsibly reopen and provide our guests with a safe environment to bring their loved ones”, says Director Mickey Ollson. The Sky Ride, African Tram, Safari Train, all Indoor Exhibits, the Petting Zoo, the Giraffe Feeding Station & Stingray Touch Tank will be open. Wildlife World’s standards are subject to change based on recommendations from the state and municipal public health officials. The first 100 visitors to come through the doors on Opening Day will receive a FREE DONUT and free donut coupons will be available thereafter, while supplies last, compliments of Alien Donuts!
What’s NEW at Wildlife World?
When the park closed due to Covid, the long-awaited, 5-acre expansion had only been open for a couple of weeks! With the reopening, visitors will be able to come face to face with the 2 Endangered Pygmy Hippos, as well as several other new species including Grevy’s Zebras, Nilgai, Onagers, Caracals, Clouded Leopards & many more!
For the first time in the State’s history, Pygmy Hippos now call Arizona home. Sadly, the Pygmy Hippo is now Endangered, with recent population estimates indicating there may be fewer than 3,000 pygmy hippos left in the wild. Hippos are threatened by habitat loss due to logging and human settlement. Although conservation initiatives are ongoing, without more information on the species’ status and a coordinated conservation strategy, the Pygmy Hippo may disappear from the wild entirely. Fortunately, Arizona’s climate lends itself to these magnificent animals and provides the young hippos with a perfect environment to flourish and thrive, all the while being an ambassador for their species and inspiring people to conserve and protect these magnificent animals.
The new addition includes dozens of new exhibits tailored to the natural habitats and needs of each species, incorporating pastures, ponds, islands and water features. Other new species making their debut include Nilgai Antelope, Sarus Cranes and many more rare and endangered African bird & hoof stock species, with plans to continue to expand the collection. The 5-acre addition will bring the total size of Safari Park to nearly 30 acres!
Guests will also notice lots of areas that have been completely remodeled, including several aviaries and primate exhibits. In addition, construction on the park’s New Tiger Oasis is in full swing and expected to be completed in 2021. The new exhibits will feature naturalistic climbing walls, perches, climate-controlled housing, overhead tunnels that lead to additional playing grounds, waterfalls and pools suitable for the largest variety of feline found in the World! The enclosed tunnel will allow the cats to climb up and over zoo visitors, giving guests and tigers a truly unique view of each other. For the past 35 years Wildlife World has constantly remodeled and renovated existing exhibits, while continuing to build out new exhibits and areas to give its guests a unique opportunity that gets up close and personal with wildlife. Given the outstanding track record focused on commitment to superior animal care and innovative exhibit design, the new additions and renovations are certain to deliver and exceed all expectations!
With over 6000 animals, there are always new arrivals at Wildlife World! Some of the park’s newest additions on display include a young giraffe, penguin chick, young lemur, colobus monkey, spider monkeys, olive baboon, capybara & several hoofed animal species, including a kudu, a baby zabra, baby goats and other youngsters throughout the 100-acre park.
Wildlife World’s History
Mickey Ollson opened Wildlife World Zoo, Aquarium & Safari Park over 35 years ago, but he was only a child when he subconsciously made plans for it. Nearly 69 years ago. Ollson was a little boy then, just about 10 years old, and he was just realizing a dream. "I had chicken pox or the measles, so I couldn't go to school for a couple weeks," said Ollson. Ollson, remembers that fateful afternoon vividly. To pass the time, he drew a map. That map became the key to Ollson's entire future. "I thought about it, this is where I am going to have animals someday," said Ollson. Ollson graduated from ASU and became a teacher, but his love for animals grew. He was raising exotic birds for other zoos and other collections, and in the early 80's, with the growth of the west side of Phoenix, he decided that’s where he would open the zoo. Wildlife World opened to the public in 1984 and he is now, the owner of one of the largest private zoos in the nation.
The Zoo had been open a few years when Ollson was reminded of the map. The original was laminated by his mother, and it was found in her belongings after she passed away. Still on site every day, Ollson spends time checking in with all the keepers and all the animals, proud of all that's been accomplished. Jack Ewert, the Deputy Director started working at the zoo as a sophomore in high school. For 35+ years, Ollson has been a boss, a friend, and an inspiration. "To me, he is a testament to what somebody can accomplish if they dedicate their entire life to something, and his entire life is dedicated to the zoo," said Ewert. Never in his wildest dreams did Ollson think his childhood vision would become reality, and that the tiny little map would grow into a 100-acre zoo that houses 6,000 animals! If he knew then what he knows now, Ollson still wouldn't change a thing, because, he says, “It all came together just like it's supposed to”.
Wildlife World Zoo, Aquarium & Safari Park has Arizona’s largest collection of exotic and endangered animals, with more than 600 separate species, 6000 animals, 10 rides, a petting zoo and several daily shows! Be sure to come to Wildlife World with an appetite! Dillon’s KC BBQ allows you to dine with the sharks! You’ll be eating beside a beautiful 60,000-gallon shark tank or enjoying a vibrant flamingo exhibit on the patio. Visitors can discover the wonders of life in the water with the four-building aquarium, filled with hundreds of fish, amphibians, invertebrates, reptiles, a stingray feeding/touch tank and California sea lions at Shipwreck Cove! In the zoo, the young animals on display in the Baby Animal Nursery changes from week to week and month to month. Guests get up close to nature and wildlife at the Kids’ Petting Zoo, where children get the opportunity to meet and feed axis deer, baby goats, chickens, and more. The giraffe feeding station gives visitors the chance to feed the world’s tallest land mammal face-to-face from a 12-foot platform. Stop by a show and learn about unique wildlife as they demonstrate natural behaviors like foraging and free flight. Learn from knowledgeable professionals who love animals and are passionate about educating people about some of the world’s most majestic and exotic species. See small monkeys, sloths, foxes, bats, and many more in nearly a dozen air-conditioned exhibit buildings displaying some of the world’s most beautiful and fascinating creatures. Dragon World features large acrylic panels including some with underwater viewing to provide visitors with an up-close look at slithering snakes, rare iguanas, and crocodilians galore! It’s also home to a giant saltwater crocodile! Wildlife World is home to all the big cats in the wild kingdom, as well as some smaller ones too! You can visit cheetahs, jaguars (spotted and black), leopards, lions, tigers, white tigers, mountain lions, clouded leopards, caracals, servals, bobcats and ocelots! Adventure land is 15 acres of North, Central and South American animals including; Buffalo, Bears, Monkeys, and many other animals in many outdoor and three indoor exhibit buildings. The 30-acre Safari Park includes the new Pygmy hippo habitat. Visitors can walk around the safari park and take