There are a handful of animal parks in Florida, but few let you hold some of the animals, let alone explore their habitats!
We have over 200 species of animals at our place and some of them allow visitors to hold them — even sneak a cuddle or two. You probably won't want to cuddle with an alligator or a watusi, though. But who are we to judge if you do? We are Wild Florida, after all.
Our fans show the most enthusiasm for our babies. We don't know what's in the air around here, but we’ve recently experienced a cuteness explosion, adding baby lemurs, a sloth, a deer, and a bobcat to our Wildlife Park.
If you're an animal fan, you may be wondering: Where can I get up close and personal with animals in Orlando?
At Wild Florida, of course!
Many of our visitors have taken photos with Fluffy, our alligator who travels the globe to help share our story. We also have 10 other animals you can interact with in our Petting Zoo and Animal Show. So bring your selfie sticks and let's talk about which animals you can put your paws on:
- Hedgehogs – These small animals are known for their more than 5,000 spines (so maybe no hugs for them...) and have very poor eyesight. They rely on their sense of hearing and smell to find food.
- Skink – These lizard-like animals are a gardener's best friend because their diet consists of pests found among plants. Interestingly, about half of the skinks in the entire population lay eggs, and the other half give birth to their young.
- Opossums – (Also known as possums.) The term possum covers about 70 species of marsupials (meaning they carry their young in their pouches), native to Australia and surrounding islands. Opossum, however, covers over 100 species of marsupials living in the Western Hemisphere. Opossums are often referred to as possums, but in scientific contexts, possum and opossum refer to different groups of animals. Regardless what you call them, playing possum is no game for this creature – it’s a defense mechanism.
- Goats – As one of the world’s oldest domesticated animals, goats were brought to North America by Spanish explorers. Goats like to jump and play and have been known to jump as high as five feet (Goat got ups!). While you shouldn't try to hold a goat, the baby goats are great for petting!
- Sheep – We don't recomend you hold a sheep either, unless you're into mutton bustin', but you should certainly pet them in our petting area! Fun fact: Two sheep in New Zealand – Shrek and Shrek 2 – managed to elude shearers for 7 years and produced nearly 70 pounds of wool each when they finally got their hair cut. That is a lot of scarves!
- Alpaca – These members of the camel family (new to Wild Florida) love to spit, but usually only at other alpacas, so you're probably safe even if you're in the splash zone at Wild Florida. The animals usually spit at each other to establish a pecking order. Show 'em who's boss! They will only spit at humans when they make eye contact with you and feel threatened.
- Ball python – These snakes got their name because they tend to curl up in a ball when they are nervous or upset. So while you can hold these guys, we don't recommend taking their dinner rats. When kept as pets, they can live up to 50 years!
- Rat snake – These mostly non-venomous snakes are frequently mistaken for a copperhead snake. Although the copperhead are feared for their bite, the rat snake is considered beneficial because they eat rodents. We're not sayin' that we'd put one in our backyard, but if you see one, don't be afraid. It's not after you anyway.
- Cane toad – Yes, that's a picture of one. Yes, it's HUGE. Please don't tell her we said that! These natives of South America were introduced to Florida and Australia to control sugar cane pests, but are now considered invasive species.
- Red tail boa – When these snakes are born, they will weigh about two ounces and measure between 14 and 22 inches, but when these guys grow up, they will weigh 50 pounds and reach 10 feet in length! We don't suggest you use them in the gym to get fit, though.
Grab your tickets to our Wildlife Park and check out how you can hold and pet our animals at Wild Florida!