Visit The Wilds, Ohio’s Conservation Gem

What do you do with nearly 10,000 acres of strip-mined land in southeastern Ohio? Turn it into one of the world’s most magnificent conservation gems, The Wilds.

Founded in 1984, The Wilds is home to endangered and rare species from around the world. These animals have large areas to roam and behave much like they would in the wild.

The Wilds offers many guided tours that take you out into the landscape, providing closeup looks of many animals.

Persian Onager (Equus hemionus onager) from Iran are endangered

Persian Onagers are a sub-species of wild ass with fewer than 700 animals left in the wild.

Przewalski’s Wild Horse (Equus ferus przewalskii)

Przewalski’s Wild Horse was formerly found in Europe and Asia but went extinct in the wild. Zoo-based breeding programs have “made it possible to reintroduce nearly 400 Przewalski’s Wild Horses to sites in Mongolia and China”.

The ostriches were highly interested in the Open Air Safari. Our tour guide told us that they were known to swipe phones and sunglasses but our camera stayed safe. The birds provided a lot of closeup views of their antics.

The white rhinos also provided close views. Their eyesight is poor but these are known to be really dangerous because of their size: 4,000 to 5,000 lbs! (Read on to find out how dangerous they can be!)

Banteng – endangered wild cattle species from Asia and Indonesia
Cheetahs chilling

The Open Air Safari was included in our trip because we spent the night at one of the yurts on Nomad Ridge. The yurts are spacious and offer beautiful views from their personal deck. They feature temperature controls, internet, bathrooms with showers and all the amenities you could ask for. (No televisions because why would you need that?)

The tour stopped twice to go on short walks to see more of the landscape and animals. At our second stop we saw cheetahs, wild African dogs, and Dhole puppies. The puppies were out playing and adorable as you’d expect!

Dhole pups

At night, we signed up for the Evening at the Outpost, a pricey but incredibly worthwhile, intimate trip into the heart of The Wilds.

Us (Stacia and Eddie) and another couple were driven by 4×4 truck to a barn where we spent around 30 minutes feeding a beautiful and friendly reticulated giraffe named Tuffy.

A second giraffe awaiting a leafy treat

After the giraffes had their fill, we made our way to the Outpost where Southern White Rhinos were waiting.

One of the wildlife specialists informed us they really like their bellies scratched so we cautiously scratched and petted. Stacia had the magic touch and literally put to sleep one of the rhinos with one hand.

We closed out our Outpost venture with nice views of this Sichuan Takin from China.

The animals of The Wilds use only about 1,000 or so acres and the rest is buffer area that consists of restored habitat that is constantly being improved. We saw hundreds of Bobolinks, Eastern Meadowlark and even a few Henslow’s Sparrows. There’s a bison herd and a ton of white-tailed deer that make this buffer area home.

We signed up for a horseback trail ride around some of this perimeter area to experience more of the rolling hills that make up beautiful southeastern Ohio.

The Wilds is a great place for all ages and abilities. We went without kids to celebrate our 8th anniversary but know our boys would love it here. The yurts are for adults only and there are some other age restrictions on various activities. Older kids would probably get more out of a trip here than young ones.

The Wilds is not a zoo and the up close encounters make for an exciting trip. The amount of conservation this non-profit does is amazing. The Wilds is somewhat of a hidden gem but we really recommend a trip out there. It is a bit expensive but can be done in a two-day one night trip and is really an experience you will never forget.

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