Lion Country Safari is involved in the captive breeding of a number of threatened or endangered species, including: Southern White Rhinoceros, Chimpanzee and Gibbon Ape.
Lion Country Safari is a licensed rehabilitation facility, taking in injured wildlife and offering care and/or placement in a more appropriate facility or return to the wild. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service permits Lion Country to keep brown pelicans, releasing the offspring of these birds into the wild or placing them in an appropriate facility if release is not possible.
The White Rhinoceros (Ceratotherium simum) is one of Africa’s best known endangered animals. Weighing 5000 lbs. and standing 6′ at the shoulder, it is also among the largest.
Since Lion Country Safari first opened its doors to the public in 1967, the white rhinos have been a significant attraction here. The unique safari-style presentation of the rhinos, (where the people are caged in their vehicles as they drive through the rhino ‘s territory), allows for the opportunity to get unusually close to these remarkable creatures. To experience an animal of this size grazing a few feet from your car window, or to have a mother and her calf lumber across the road just inches in front of you, are thrills that should not be missed.In the late 1960′s and early ’70′s, Lion Country Safari imported several white rhinos from Africa and from other zoos. They have thrived in the sub-tropical Florida habitat and, over the years, over 30 births have occurred here. Many of these have been sent to other zoos around the world, but some also remain at home here at Lion Country.
As a participant in the Species Survival Plan (SSP) for white rhinos, Lion Country Safari looks forward to strengthening its involvement with the global plan of captive rhino reproduction. With wild populations continuing to decline due to poaching, sound captive breeding management is essential to ensure strong genetics. The SSP is a conservation program of the American Zoo and Aquarium Association (AZA).
Few animals fascinate humans so intensely as chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes). Perhaps it is because we can see so much of ourselves in them – their social nature, the gentle nurturing of their offspring, their facial expressions, and even their sometimes fiery tempers. They are, after all, our closest living animal relatives.
Lion Country Safari boasts one of the largest captive populations of chimpanzees in North America. Four distinct populations inhabit large islands within the preserves, and are separated from each other, and from visitor’s vehicles, by water-filled canals. The social structure of our island communities are quite similar to the forests of central Africa, and in this respect are quite unique among captive chimpanzee groups found throughout the world.We are proud to be an active participant in ChimpanZoo, an observation program of captive chimpanzees, headed by world renowned chimp expert, Dr. Jane Goodall. ChimpanZoo observers are trained to observe and record individual and group behavior — valuable information which enhances our understanding of the habits of captive chimps. They also learn how to make enrichments for these curious and intelligent animals. Volunteers to participate in this worthwhile program are always welcome.
Unfortunately, these fascinating animals continue to disappear quickly from the wild. Slash and burn methods of deforestation are severely limiting their natural habitats. Poachers seize baby chimpanzees from their mothers to satisfy the never-ending demand for the pet trade. Because of their close genetic link to humans, chimps are also taken from the wild and used in medical and other scientific research. Today, most countries have banned or strictly regulated their live export, but such bans are often very difficult to enforce. Ultimately, selective logging and reforestation practices, public education, and further studies like those of ChimpanZoo will be one of the only ways to save this species from extinction.