Wild Wilderness Drive-Through Safari

Donkey
Amanda Galiano

What:

Wild Wilderness Drive-Through Safari is a drive-through animal park in Gentry, Arkansas. The drive through section is nicely done and has a wide variety of hoofed animals, including several species of antelope, zebra, camels, rhino and more. From the drive, you'll also see bears, tigers, some primates and a few emu. Wild Wilderness Drive-Through Safari even has a hippo and prairie dogs that you can see on the drive-through if you look closely enough. Some of the animals are in enclosures, but most roam freely inside the park.

The park also has a petting area which houses goat, pigs, a tortoise and some kangaroo.

Where:

Wild Wilderness Drive-Through Safari is located in Gentry, in Northwest Arkansas, Google Map. Gentry is right outside of Fayetteville and almost a four hour drive from Little Rock.

Contact, Admission and Hours:

Phone: 479-736-8383

Open daily, 9:00 a.m. The recommended hours to visit are from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. daily.

There is a $10 admission fee (kids under 12 are $8), and they only accept cash for the admission fee, Be sure to bring cash. For the fee, you have all day access to the park, which means you can drive-through as many times as you want to.

They do have a website where you can see the animal species they currently display and find out more information about the park.

Close Encounters:

Wild Wilderness Drive-Through Safari sometimes allows close encounters with exotic animals. On my visit, they had a baby Capuchin monkey, a snake and a lemur available for interaction. Others report different animal interactions on their visit, so they have a variety of animals available to meet the public.

Food is available for purchase and is supposed to be fed only to the petting zoo animals, and not to the wildlife on the drive-through. You are also supposed to keep your windows up through the drive-through.

Petting zoo animals, even kangaroos, will come right up to you, especially if you have food. So, even if a special encounter animal isn't available you can still get a close encounter with an animal.

Overall:

Overall, I think this is a nicely done park. The hoofstock part of the drive-through encounter is excellent. It feels more like Fossil Rim, a similiar accredited, zoo in Tyler, TX, than the older roadside drive-through parks that only had an old horse and a llama. This park really does feel like you're driving through the wilderness. It gets the drive through safari right.

The petting zoo is also nicely done. Most of the animals are friendly and will gladly take the food you offer them (or your map to the drive-park if you're not looking). It has got to be the only place in Arkansas to get a close-up interaction with a kangaroo. Kids will get their money's worth just playing with the petting zoo animals.

The other areas, especially primates and encounter animals, do need improvement. Talking to one of the owners, I think they realize that some things could be improved. They are a family run operation and funds are limited. They have minimal staff. They do seem to want to do what is best for the animals, while providing a fun park for families. They really seemed proud to offer a one-of-a-kind experience at the park, which I would agree that they do.

That being said, if I were to visit again, I would just do the drive through and petting zoo and skip walking around the rest of the park.  They really don't need the primates or animal encounters to be a fun family experience.

Nearby Attractions:

Northwest Arkansas has lots to do. Not too far from Wild Wilderness Safari is Fayetteville, Bentonville and Rogers. Fayetteville is the home of the Razorbacks, the Walton Arts Center and the Arkansas Air Museum. Also close is Rogers, the home of Crystal Bridges Museum, and Bentonville, the home of the Wal-Mart Visitors Center.

The only accredited zoo in the state of Arkansas is the Little Rock Zoo, though Tulsa Zoo is closer to Gentry than Little Rock. Other animal attractions in the state of Arkansas include the Arkansas Alligator Farm in Hot Springs.