If you’re looking for things to do with the kids, you’ll love Global Wildlife Center in Folsom. In an area of St. Tammany Parish frequently reserved for country homes, plant nurseries, and equestrian farms, Global Wildlife raises four legged hoofstock of a different sort. Reminiscent of Africa, but in Louisiana, Global Wildlife is a 900-acre free roaming safari park. Gentle rolling hills and a lake, the absence of predators, and wide open spaces make it a serene habitat for thousands of animals from all over the world. Some of the furry friends you’ll meet at Global Wildlife include camels, giraffes, zebras, kangaroos, deer, bison, and more.
Kid-friendly guided safaris are conducted in large covered wagons pulled by tractors, or you can also schedule a Private Pinz tour for your family’s own personal safari. As a safari guide explains interesting facts about the animals’ habits and habitats in the wild, visitors learn through touch as they are able to count the stripes of a zebra, wiggle a camel’s hump, nuzzle a giraffe, or feel the wooly fur of bison. The best part about Global Wildlife Center is that petting the animals is encouraged; the key to getting up close and personal comes in the souvenir cup of animal feed. The more food, the more fun animal encounters you’ll have. Whether you’re two or 92, there’s nothing like getting eye to eye with a family of giraffes to connect with your inner child.
No matter what season you visit, Global Wildlife Center offers a dynamic experience. Autumn brings the rut, or breeding season, and you’re likely to see antlers clashing and dust flying as male deer compete for dominance of their herds. The cool, brisk temperatures definitely get the animals feeling frisky, and it’s a lovely time for humans to be on safari tours, too. As long as you’re dressed accordingly (it gets windy in those fields), winter tours are exciting. The animals are especially “hungry,” many bulking up in preparation for winter. You may even be able to see a “feed-up,” when staffers broadcast feed thousands of pounds of animal feed in the Lake field. Spring brings a bevy of beautiful babies, with hundreds of deer giving birth. In fact, new baby animals are born year-round at Global, and many births have been witnessed by lucky visitors on tour.
After your safari, grab lunch nearby at Gus’s, or coffee and a pastry at Giddy Up Folsom, both on Hwy. 25 in the village of Folsom. Little River Bluffs and Maison Reve B & B offer unique and memorable accommodations a short drive away.
Traveler’s tip: If feeding the giraffes is a must on your bucket list, the Private Pinz tour, in a Jeep-like vehicle with amazing access to the animals, may be your best bet. Be sure and check globalwildlife.com for tour availability as tour times vary.