Ever dream of being eye to eye with a giraffe? Ever wanted to feed elk from your hand? You can do this and more at the amazing Global Wildlife Center on the Louisiana Northshore. Named “The Best Kept Secret in Louisiana” by Louisiana Life Magazine, the Global Wildlife Center is fun for the entire family.
Fascinating Adventures at the Global Wildlife Center
Recently when planning a trip to the Audubon Zoo in New Orleans, I stumbled across an advertisement for the Global Wildlife Center. Their motto is “learn through touch.” Touch a giraffe? I had to see this for myself.
We immediately rearranged our plans to visit the Global Wildlife Center to see what this place was all about. Wow. Words cannot even begin to describe the experience my family had in our afternoon at this animal sanctuary.
Located in Folsom, Louisiana, the Global Wildlife Center is a 900-acre refuge to over 4,000 rare, endangered and extinct in the wild animals. This non-profit conservation foundation has been in operation since 1991 and is the largest totally free-roaming wildlife preserve of its kind in the United States. This unbelievable place is located just 1 hour north of New Orleans. Here you can enjoy a guided tour through an oasis of wildlife with a Safari Wagon Tour or a Private Pinz Tour.
Private Pinz Tours
I highly recommend you participate in a Private Pinz Tour when visiting the Global Wildlife Center. These private tours are conducted in 4×4 pinzgauers that can navigate off-road and take you places the safari wagon tours cannot. My family recently took a private tour and we were blown away. We learned so much about the different animals from our tour guide, Nicole. Did you know that a giraffe’s tongue is 18 inches long? Did you know that zebras bite to show both affection and aggression? The zebra are the only animals at the wildlife center that cannot be fed. This doesn’t stop them from trying though.
The Private Pinz Tour allowed us to go at our own pace throughout the safari. We spent a significant amount of time with the giraffe as we were in awe of how close they were. The pinzgauer was able to take us to the remote location where the camels, Bonnie and Clyde, were resting . We were also able to get very close to the bison and elk.
Private Pinz Tours are available by appointment only and have a donation minimum of $35.00 per person, per hour. The pinzgauer can hold up to 9 people at a time.
Safari Wagon Tours
The Safari Wagon Tour is a great option for large groups. Climb aboard a covered wagon for a truly hands-on experience with the wildlife. These 1 1/2 hour guided wagon tours are offered daily and have a donation minimum of $17.00 for adults; $15.00 for seniors and military personnel; and $11.00 for children ages 2-11.
Wildlife Living on the Preserve
Thousands of animals roam the land at the Global Wildlife Center. You will see giraffe, zebra, camels, alpaca, bison, elk, Pere David’s deer, llamas, kangaroo, scimitar horned oryx, and more. During our Private Pinz Tour we came in contact with all of the different animals. Rocky the Llama was the first animal to greet us on our journey. This guy was persistent to say the least. He followed us for what seemed like miles in hopes of getting some food and attention. We couldn’t stop laughing at how far this guy was willing to follow us for food. Warning – llamas, alpaca and camels like to spit.
Hand Feed the Animals
The most exciting part of the tour was hand feeding the animals. Before we departed on our safari we had the option to purchase animal feed. You absolutely need to do this! There are four different sizes of feed to choose from:
- 32oz Souvenir Cups $2.00
- Family Bucket $30.00 – at least 20 cups
- Sack $62.00 – at least 50 cups
- Bin $75.00 – at least 75 cups
TravelingMom Tip: Do not purchase the souvenir cup, it simply isn’t enough food. We purchased a Family Bucket and all four of us had plenty of food for the tour. If you have a party of five or more people I would recommend purchasing a sack or a bin. The giraffe love to eat and will stick their necks inside the jeep and eat straight from the bucket.
Learn Through Touch
The Global Wildlife Center fosters personal interactions with the animals and believe that touch is the best teaching tool. Did you know that the softest part of a giraffe is just behind its ears? I couldn’t believe how close the giraffe will get to our faces. Surprisingly, none of the animals appeared to be afraid of us. We had the most incredible experience at the Global Wildlife Center. If you have a heart for animals you absolutely need to plan a visit.
Hours of Operation
The Global Wildlife Center is open year round, 7 days a week with the exception of Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Year’s Eve, New Year’s Day, Thanksgiving Day and Easter. Tickets are sold on a first come, first serve basis. Hence, I highly recommend booking a Private Pinz Tour in advance. Call (985) 796-3585 for safari check–in times and availability. Additionally, you can check their website, www.globalwildlife.com, each Friday for new tour times.
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Membership in the Global Wildlife Foundation
The Global Wildlife Center’s mission is to help restore populations of endangered species. Did you know at one point in time there were only 15 Pere David’s Deer left in the world? Now, the Global Wildlife Center is believed to have the largest herd in the nation.
They are able to continue their work through the generous donations of their members. Membership can be obtained with a $75 donation. Members will receive free Safari Wagon Tours any time (year round), invitations to two Members Only events per year, 10% discount in the gift shop, as well as Global Wildlife News and E-mail updates.