Comprising over 450 acres of land that features a self drive-thru portion, a professionally guided tour, and a Walk-Through Zoo full of hundreds of exotic and domestic livestock, Aggieland Safari is coming to the Bryan-College Station area.
Aggieland Safari is a planned outdoor wildlife park that will serve the Bryan/ College Station area. Park managing partner Brandi Riley said the park is a unique educational experience for the public.
“One of the things that we’re really passionate about is conservation so we really wanted to bring species into a program that people could experience and enjoy, but also be on a program to conserve their species,” Riley said.
Riley said the safari has been in the works for about two years and they spent the first six months travelling the U.S. looking at different successful parks and understanding what visitors enjoy. Riley said both of her business partners had a desire to bring an outdoors family activity to Bryan/ College Station.
“It’s always been a dream of ours and our partners that are from Cameron, Texas,” Riley said. “It was just one of those things of meeting the right people and putting a really good business plan together we thought would work, and we got a lot of feedback from the community, and they would like. We’re very outdoorsy people, and we just wanted to bring our love for animals and the passion that we have to conserve certain species to this area.”
While some aspects, like park location, have not been finalized or released to the public, Riley said it is all in the best interest of the animals.
“Right now during the construction phase it’s really important that we don’t have people wandering in and out of the property just because one of the big things when bringing an animal is conditioning these animals and making sure that they’re safe, making sure that they’re not frightened, properly cared for,” Riley said. “We want to put our animals’ safety and wellbeing first. When they’re ready to have visitors and stuff like that, that’s when we’ll be willing to release the location.”
The hiring process, for the most part, is underway and will start within the next month. The park is looking for zookeepers, animal technicians and employees to work in the gift shop and restaurant. Riley said the park is also hoping to put together an internship program to provide an opportunity for volunteers and different exposure for students.
“We know we have a lot of interest in interns coming into the safari as well as volunteers, so we want to be able to provide that to the community especially since A&M has a veterinary school here,” Riley said. “Putting together an intern or volunteer program where people can come out and gain some of those internship hours and experience, so that’s something that we’ve yet put together, but we’re actively working on that right now.”
Zoo curator Paul Hang works on properly housing and caring for the animals that they plan to exhibit. He has a background experience working with zoos and said one of their goals is to teach and help the conservation of these animals.
“We already have several endangered species right now, and one of the goals is to, not to just have those endangered species but to teach about them and to help the conservation,” Hang said. “Whether that’s using these endangered species to highlight their status in the wild or actually even being part of breeding programs, eventually they can be released to the wild.”
Controller Kayla Graham said the park is going to bring a lot to the area since there are not many activities for families to do besides eating and shopping.
“I think it’s just gonna add something where people can come, spend the day, have a blast, meet some of these awesome animals and learn about conservation and things like that,” Graham said. “I think [Aggieland Safari] brings an awareness of how amazing these animals are and how we all need to work together to try to save them.”
The park is set to open later in 2019. Tickets for adults will be $15 and $10 for children 3 to 12 years old. For an additional fee, visitors can feed giraffes, tortoise or visit kangaroos and a baby animal nursery.