Animal lovers who have traveled to Canada for the "African Lion Safari" won't need a passport for an attraction much closer to home. There is an adventure hidden in Wyoming County.
Raising animals is second nature for Hans Boxler, 74.
"Oh, I love my animals. That's why I have them, I guess,” Boxler said.
He has 400 of them. Unlike a zoo, the animals roam freely over 63 acres in the Wyoming County Hamlet of Varysburg.
“The animals are all in a natural habitat. They aren't caged up or anything. They roam through the woods over the streams and dips,” Boxler said.
Boxler said there are over 30 different species, most of African descent, at "Hidden Valley Animal Adventure".
"Well, we've got wildebeests, Watusi, Zebras, Kangaroo, Red Deer, Elk, Bison, Water Buffalo, Elans, Nilgai,” Boxler said.
Boxler's granddaughter Nichole said the animals will come right up to the covered wagon to eat sweet treats you can buy right out of your hands.
“All our animals pretty much eat the same thing like grain and grass. None of them are carnivores. So they are all very friendly, you don't have to worry about getting bit,” Nichole said.
For young children or adults intimidated by the herds, there is a place to be one-on-one with the animals.
Before opening the park for exotic animals Father's Day weekend, Nichole remembers what it was like.
“We used to have the camel and zebra up by the road and people used to stop there. And I took the kangaroos on walks, but then I used to get a lot of people stopping by, curious. They probably thought people in Varysburg were crazy. Well, I guess to put something together like this. Well, I guess you could consider us a little different,” Boxler said.
Different yes. Exotic, certainly. Boxler estimates the park cost $2 million.
"They are a lot of work. You got to be a very dedicated person. They aren't a machine that you can turn off and on. They are like people you got in the hospital; they need daily care. It doesn’t matter if It's Christmas, New Years, whatever. They gotta be taken care of,” Boxler said.
Hidden Valley Animal Adventure