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Greater Wynnewood Exotic Animal Park provides a thrilling close-encounter with Big Cats

Shane Smith / Red Dirt Report
A tiger at Greater Wynnewood's Exotic Animal Park.
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WYNNEWOOD, Okla.- I wasn’t quite prepared for my visit to the Greater Wynnewood Exotic Animal Park.  Driving south on I-35 from Norman, I saw more than one advertisement for Arbuckle Wilderness, a pricey, over-hyped drive-thru zoo that allows you to feed the animals that wander up to your car window. 

We were instead en route to a zoo that receives far less attention than almost every other zoo in the state but is known for its collection tigers, lions, and other exotic animals. I was soon to discover that this sanctuary provides the most unbelievable close encounter with big cats that exists in Oklahoma.

The entrance was fairly unassuming, we passed through the gift shop entrance, as is per usual for most zoos. Admissions run $15 per adult, $10 per child. We were informed that, for $25 per person, we could interact with several tiger cubs that are being raised at the zoo.

Take my money, please. 

After paying, we walked through the entrance and were immediately in the midst of around twenty big cats. They were all in very secure enclosures, but the visitor can stand within 4 feet of these massive animals. Most Oklahoma zoos have their big cat exhibits cordoned off, with the cats kept at a frustrating distance from onlookers. At the Exotic Animal Park,  the visitor is mere feet from 600-pound tigers and lions, providing an almost primal thrill that can’t be found anywhere else. 

My young daughter was equally enthralled by the gigantic beasts, wondering aloud if they would want to play with her cats at home. 

Several enclosures held multiple big cats, and the visitor can witness the interactions among them, and, occasionally, the displays of dominance, which result in the characteristic booming roar. The sheer volume is an experience in itself and has a paralyzing effect on the body.  You know in your bones that a swift delimbing normally follows such a sound. 

Twenty minutes into our visit, and it was time for tiger cub playtime.  Jackie, one of the volunteers- everyone working at the zoo is a volunteer- guided us into a room that looked ready for human toddlers, but instead contained the toddler versions of a kangaroo, raccoon, and two feisty tiger cubs. For ten glorious minutes, baby tigers climbed all over us as Jackie gave us a bit of history on each.  It was an unforgettable experience for us, and more than worth the paltry $25 per person fee. 

Next, we idly wandered the zoo, marveling at the beauty of these animals, as I wondered why humans are so fascinated with carnivores, going so far as to domesticate smaller versions and keep them as pets.  The zoo even has a liger, a lion-tiger cross, that can grow to sizes far greater than its parents.

If you enjoy zoos and want to truly experience these beautiful animals, the only place for it is the Greater Wynnewood Exotic Animal Park.  There are other exhibits: bears, alligators, birds, etc.  But you come for the cats.  The staff is very helpful, and the environment is very minimalistic. 

There are no frills for lame exhibits to hide behind. 

But there are no lame exhibits here, only an unforgettable experience that you won’t find anywhere else.

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About the Author

Shane Smith

Shane Smith is an accountant and freelance writer with a bachelor's degree in economics from...

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About Red Dirt Report

Red Dirt Report was launched July 4, 2007 as an independent news website covering all manner of news, culture, entertainment and lifestyle stories that affect and interest Oklahoma readers and readers outside of our state. Our mission is to educate, promote civic engagement and discourse on public policy, government and politics. Our experienced journalists provided balanced in-depth coverage of news stories that affect Oklahomans. Our opinion/editorial stories come from a wide range of political view points. We carry out our mission by reporting, writing, and posting news and information. read more

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