Top 5 Reasons to Visit AIKMAN WILDLIFE ADVENTURE
Aikman Wildlife Adventure is a drive through and walk through wildlife sanctuary in Arcola, Illinois. Aikman Wildlife Adventure's mission is to provide the highest quality of life possible to wildlife in need, while maintaining a family friendly environment through interaction, education, conservation and by creating an experience of a lifetime.
About Aikman Wildlife Adventure
Aikman Wildlife Adventure is a "zoo" unlike any in the Chicoagoland area. AWA hosts over 150 animals comprised of over 50 different species native to 6 different continents. AWA in my opinion is an animal sanctuary. An animal sanctuary is a facility where their animals are brought to live and are protected for the rest of their lives right at their facilities. Unlike animal shelters, sanctuaries do not seek to place the animals elsewhere, instead AWA will maintain each animal they host until its natural death. Every animal came to AWA because the home they were in was no longer able to care for the animals, was not adequate for the animal or simply not wanted any longer. All of the animals are local to the United States, as in, all of these animals were born in the USA.
The Aikman Wildlife Adventure park / zoo consists a variety of animals, petting zoo, drive thru adventure, walk-thru adventure, small play area, gift and snack shops, wagon tour, and the best option in my opinion, the behind-the-scenes adventure. AWA is located in central Illinois on 40 acres and is continuing to open new exhibits and host new animals all the time as the needs arise.
If you’re a wildlife and/or animal lover, or have dreamed of working in a zoo or a wildlife sanctuary, this is the place to visit. Being around animals every day is a dream for my daughter. Truly, she loves every single animal and wants to rescue every single animal that crosses our yard. Here are her TOP REASONS TO VISIT AIKMAN WILDLIFE ADVENTURE.
When you arrive, you have the option to select different adventures. As I mentioned there is the Behind-The-Scenes Tour (which includes the Walk-thru), the Drive-thru Adventure (also includes the Walk-thru) or the Drive-thru Only, the Wagon Tour Adventure (which includes a guided Walk-thru) or Walk-Thru Only. There is also the option to purchase season passes.
1) The first reason to visit the Aikman Wildlife Adventure is for the actual wildlife sanctuary itself. The Learning Center is the main entrance of the park where you would pay for admittance to the AWApark. The Learning Center hosts a variety of animals in cages or encased behind plastic exhibits. There are some reptiles, a hedgehog, a rabbit, a couple of ring-tailed lemurs and a macaw. Located in the Learning Center is the gift shop and the option to purchase a ticket to visit the kangaroo area and experience what it is like to pet and interact with the kangaroos.
Drive - Thru Adventure
2) The Drive-Thru Adventure allows you to personally drive your own vehicle through the mile long path and area where the animals are roaming free. This area is situated on approximately 20 acres in the park. You will see all different animals in this specific area right from the comfort of your car. This is a great option if perhaps your children are frightened of animals and do not want to interact with any animals, the weather is not cooperating the day of your visit or guests are less mobile.
Wagon Tour Adventure
3) The Wagon Tour Adventure is simply that, a ride on a wagon. The second reason to visit AWA and one of the main attractions of AWA is the wagon rides that take guests around the park as the animals interact in their natural environment. Guests hop on a wagon with other guests and the wagon then drives guests around the mile long path and area where the animals are free roaming. The Wagon Tour Adventure runs every 30 minutes each day AWA is open. You also have the opportunity to interact and feed different animals on the 20 acres they are roaming. There is a tour guide on each wagon tour adventure that points out the different animals hosted at AWA. The wagon tours are first come first serve each day.
Walk - Thru Adventure / Petting Zoo
4) The fourth reason why so many love spending time at the Aikman Wildlife Adventure is to enjoy nature. The Walk-Thru Adventure pretty much is a general admission to the park / zoo. You simply purchase your admission and are free to roam about and see all the animals in their own specific areas / habitats at AWA. During your Walk-Thru Adventure, you also are able to visit the Petting Zoo to interact with the animals. The animals are super friendly. There is an area to purchase cups of feed for a fee if you would like to feed the animals. All the animals loved to be feed.
During your walk - thru adventure, you have the opportunity to visit the The Watering Hole for chips, pretzels, cookies, drinks and hand-dipped ice-cream. There is a small play area for children and tables if you would like to bring a lunch and eat or simply to sit and rest. The paths are very accessible and easy to navigate. The employees are friendly and helpful.
5) The fifth reason to visit Aikman Wildlife Adventure is for the Unparalleled Wildlife Viewing! The Behind-the-Scenes Adventure is the best way to get the full AWA experience in my opinion. We drove all the way to AWA from Chicago, so we were absolutely taking the Behind-the-Scenes Adventure tour to be able to see as many animals as possible. My oldest daughter really will likely dedicate her life to animals so I wanted her to be able to have a full animal experience at AWA. Her heart was certainly full when we concluded the Behind-the Scences Adventrue tour. We had made reservations prior to our drive, and AWA recommends that reservations be made in advance for this specific adventure. James Aikman, the owner of Aikman Wildlife Adventure was our guide on the tour and was able to provide a lot of information on the animals.
The tour begins at the Learning Center and the guides bring guests through the Walk-Thru area and the Petting Zoo, but also offers information about each animal as well as the animals names and any history about the animal (ie: how they came to reside at AWA). This is the time to ask any questions about the animals you might have. The Petting Zoo arena hosts lambs, goats, llamas, deer, miniature cows and alpaca. There are pot bellied pigs, porcupines, raccoons, hyenas, servals, hybrid wolves, and silver foxes as well as a black bear and an eurasian eagle owl. Additionally, you will see pheasants, sulcata tortoises, patagonian cavy, coatimundi, and you experience a personal up close opportunity to interact and pet the kangaroos. The kangaroos were docile and simply laying about and soaking up the summer sun.
After the personal guided walk-thru adventure, the guests are loaded into a razr (dune buggy) to ride through the mile long path and area where the animals are roaming free on 20 acres. This is the ultimate way to soak up the love from the animals because they will come running to the guide on the razr searching for food. My daughters simply loved the fact that the animals would trot right up to the open dune buggy and start looking for hands filled with food to gobble up. Not all the animals will visit the dune buggy, but a lot of them do and it was great to interact up close with these animals. If you are attempting to take images, like I was, it was a bit difficult, because the animals truly are right on top of you. It was hilarious and amazing all at the same time.
If you do not have the opportunity to take the Behind-the-Scenes Adventure, I would definitely recommend the Wagon Tour Adventure as a second option. Feeding and interacting with the animals is an opportunity that should not be missed. These animals are well cared for and well loved. I just wished we lived closer so we could visit more often. If you are looking for something to do this summer, I highly recommend taking a drive from the Chicagoland area to Aikman Wildlife Adventure and checking them out. You will not be disappointed.
Aikman Wildlife Adventure is located at 125 North County Road 425E in Arcola, IL. For more information, visit their website at www.aikmanwildlife.com. Find them on Facebook at www.facebook.com/AikmanWildlife.