If you’re ever in the Orlando area and can tear yourself away from the theme parks for a few hours, I highly recommend trekking over to visit Leslie-Ann Rush’s 7+-acre farm known as ‘Exotic Animal Experience.’ (It’s a quick drive, but there are multiple tolls so be sure to either buy a SunPass or have cash/ stock up on quarters; that was a hard-learned lesson for us.)
I randomly stumbled upon EAE while doing research for our trip to Orlando for Universal’s Halloween Horror Nights. I was looking for something to do other than the traditional theme parks and I’m so glad I found this place! I read a ton of reviews and they were all top-notch; I looked at pictures, stalked their FaceBook page, read Google reviews — it seemed too good to be true.
There’s some sticker shock when looking at pricing, especially since all the reviews I read suggested the Ultimate Experience which is $380 per person … but I can say with 100% certainty that it was totally worth all those dollars. Especially when you think about how other animal experiences are priced – usually it’s at least $100 and you only get a short amount of time with one animal species. At EAE we spent 2 hours touching, holding, interacting and feeding a ton of different kinds of animals!
We started our tour with Zoey. She was so pretty, but a little uninterested in me. She gave “kisses” to a couple other people in our group, but we weren’t among the lucky ones. It was so cool seeing her up close – her stripes look black and white in pictures and from far away, but you can see in person that the darker stripes are actually brown!
I’m officially obsessed with lemurs (which I learned are endangered btw). These little guys (and gals) were the biggest surprise of our visit. They love having their armpits scratched and will stretch out long on their backs with their arms over their heads so you can really get in there. They’ll grab onto you with their little hands and feet while you’re scratching them and one even lightly chewed on my fingernails, maybe thinking they were a snack.
I didn’t count while we were there, but according to their website, there are 9 lemurs that call EAE home.
So apparently kangaroos play rough – haha! We were warned not to kneel down to their level as they would take that as a sign that we wanted to play. Despite following this advice, the big guy featured in most of my photos below got a little feisty and tried to roughhouse with me. A little shove to create space/show dominance and we were back to neck scratches. I left the kangaroo area a little bloody, but those big scratches (although hard to see in the pic below) were so very worth it.
Olive was very timid during our visit. She mainly hid underneath her big stuffed animal, but she was a sweetie.
Brown Greater Galago
Prehensile Tailed Porcupine
Please pay special attention to how excited Ruben was to meet little Quinn.
This sweet girl’s name is Baby Girl. And she was completely uninterested in being my friend. Although she didn’t hesitate to make a move on Ruben right in front of me.
Valais Black Nose Sheep
Visit the Exotic Animal Experience website and book your visit now.
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