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 Post subject: Waccatee Zoo
PostPosted: Fri Apr 17, 2009 11:39 am 
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I have been reading some about the Waccatee Zoo. I think my kids would enjoy this but I'm concerned about reviews that say the zoo doesn't take good care of their animals. Of course that's tripadvisor where everything is extreme. Who has been and is it a good place to go?


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PostPosted: Fri Apr 17, 2009 12:04 pm 
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I think it's a wonderful place to go. The cages are on the small side, but the animals seem to be well taken care of. The "plains" animals (deer-type creatures, bison, zebras, etc) have lots and lots of room, but the lions, tiger, monkeys, etc. have small enclosures. They all certainly appear healthy, though. There are several petting areas (with hand sanitzer nearby) and the zoo is in the trees so it's a nice shady place to go on a hot day. There's also a building with some antique cars, which is a nice change of pace, especially if "dad" or "grandpa" get bored with the animals.

You enter and exit through a gift shop that has snakes and birds in aquariums and cages. On the zoo side of this building is a nice big porch with rocking chairs. You can purchase animal food in huge yellow souvenir cups so the kids (and adults) can feed the animals. There's a nice variety of animals too, and some that are a bit unusual, like the "zedonk".

The price is inexpensive and there's a discount coupon in the Monster coupon book. I think this is definitely worth the trip. My kids love it here, and even my son's girlfriend (16 yo) had a blast this past New Year's when we went.

Some cautions: The ground is mostly dirt and stones, so maybe sandals or flip-flops aren't such a good idea. I'd suggest sneakers. Also, watch out for tree roots; they're everywhere. Bring along Band-aids - we needed them last time when my younger son was "racing" a goat and tripped on a root and fell. Also, the bathrooms are near the front - one inside the building and another near the antique cars. The further you get away from them the more your child(ren) will have to go. LOL!

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PostPosted: Fri Apr 17, 2009 12:12 pm 
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We may check it out! I think my kids will love it!


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PostPosted: Fri Apr 17, 2009 12:39 pm 
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I was looking for the photojournalism that Leo (traderboynh) had posted about the zoo, but can't locate it. If I come across it later, I'll add the link to it. In the meantime, I'm sure you will enjoy his pictures of the zoo:

http://www.pbase.com/traderboynh/wacatee_zoo

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PostPosted: Fri Apr 17, 2009 3:24 pm 
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My kids were looking at the pics and now they're all excited about going. So I guess the zoo is on our To-Do List. Thanks for the pics Patrish!


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PostPosted: Mon Apr 20, 2009 2:18 pm 
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I have a 50/50 feeling about the zoo. I do not feel that most of the animals have enough space... I remember the leopard had a very small cage... do they realize that animals need space? Dawne is correct that the field animals have nice space though. I know the animals are probably saved, thus why the zoo is good, but I do not feel they are cleaned enough and have enough space. The zoo is a little hard to find... at least on our directions they were wrong. They have quarter machines around the zoo to feed the animals which was cute. I found the building a little creepy... Definitely a "mom and pop" zoo. I remember it being around 7-8 bucks when we went last summer, so it isn't expensive. I guess I just found myself feeling bad for the animals most of the time rather than enjoying myself... but again I am sure most of the animals wouldn't be here if it weren't for them since they are probably saved.

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 Post subject: Wacatee Zoo
PostPosted: Mon Apr 20, 2009 4:49 pm 
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AC06162007 wrote:
I have a 50/50 feeling about the zoo. I do not feel that most of the animals have enough space... I remember the leopard had a very small cage... do they realize that animals need space? Dawne is correct that the field animals have nice space though. I know the animals are probably saved, thus why the zoo is good, but I do not feel they are cleaned enough and have enough space. The zoo is a little hard to find... at least on our directions they were wrong. They have quarter machines around the zoo to feed the animals which was cute. I found the building a little creepy... Definitely a "mom and pop" zoo. I remember it being around 7-8 bucks when we went last summer, so it isn't expensive. I guess I just found myself feeling bad for the animals most of the time rather than enjoying myself... but again I am sure most of the animals wouldn't be here if it weren't for them since they are probably saved.


I almost had to chuckle because when I was reading your review because your review of the zoo was pretty much my review of Alligator Adventure. I pretty much panned it in my review and you liked it. See...you just never know until you go see it for yourself, I guess, so you can say "been there, done that."

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 Post subject: Zoo
PostPosted: Thu Aug 13, 2009 11:01 am 
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Truthfully, my aunt and uncle, who own a place down there were upset by their visit, and I wouldn't go there. I don't believe that animals should be in small cages, and even the Bronx zoo here, which is fairly big, realizes that the animals it houses need to be engaged and stimulated, caged animals go crazy and are bored. Imagine being locked up all the time, with just cage walls to look at.

I would suggest, rather than this zoo, to check out Brookgreen Gardens, I think it's called. They enjoyed that, and their small zoo houses animals that are rescued. On their site, there is also a sanctuary that one can visit if one makes an advance appointment. I feel much better about supporting rescues than places making money off the misery of animals.

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PostPosted: Thu Aug 13, 2009 3:37 pm 
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This was the original post from July of 2006. I don't believe much has changed at Waccatee since then but others can chime in with updates:

----------

So anyway, the Waccatee Zoo . . .

We'd heard about this place from time to time on the message board, so we decided to take our granddaughters there on Saturday (July 8th) when we had the little rascals on a sleep-over while Mommy and Daddy (Katie and Brett) were out celebrating their anniversary.

Let me preface this with a disclaimer. I'm the worst person on the planet to review a zoo because I'm not at all a zoo or animal fan. The only pet I've ever owned was a cat I got talked into getting for Katie when she was 10 years old, and the ploy to get me to say yes probably involved all manner of blackmail and extortion. It was a decision I spent the following ten years regretting, wondering randomly throughout the decade, "I said yes why?" As a hard and fast rule, pets are way too high-maintenance for my liking. A wife is about all the maintenance I can handle and even she exceeds my capacity to cope at times. But I digress.

So zoos. I basically hate them. But I was told my granddaughters would love them. And because I'll jump head first into a wood chipper if it entertains them even for a minute, I acquiesced to a visit to the zoo.

I haven't been the parent of a 9-month old in a very long time and I've never been the parent of two kids under the age of three years old, so prepping for any kind of trip outside of my living room with them is a venture on the order of the Manhattan Project. Naturally, Katie dumped off all of Noelle's and Kylie's wordly belongings on Friday night with the exception of the one thing we were going to need in Zooville -- a stroller. So off it was to Walmart to buy a stroller. On a Saturday morning. In Myrtle Beach. A major east coast beach resort. In July. With 510,000 shoppers. All from Xenia, Ohio. I sent Charlotte into the maw and waited the requisite 9 days for her release by the resident Walmart terrorists.

We eventually arrived at the zoo just as it opened at 10:00 AM. Waccatee is located off Hwy. 707 on Enterprise Rd. in what I think is still Socastee but may have been Arkansas. It's kind of "out there" a bit. The zoo sign isn't very big, nor is it prominently displayed. It's as if they want you to know there's a zoo there, but "Don't Take Us Too Seriously."

I've been trying to come up with a general overall description of this place for the last week while attempting to be objective and fair. The best I can do is that for what it is, and allowing for the fact that it's essentially a family-run operation, they do a decent enough job. According to the zoo expert I happen to live with (Charlotte), the place was "awesome!" For the 90 minutes we were there, all I kept hearing was, "Isn't this place GREAT! The kids are loving this!" All Charlotte kept hearing from me in response was, "[Silence]", and the sound of a malfunctioning right front wheel on the $14.00 Walmart Blue Light Special stroller. Noelle went from being terrorized by the screaming parrots in a Silence-of-the-Lambs kind of way, to enthralled later over the monkey doo-doo so it was kind of hard to get a read on whether either one of the kids truly loved it.

But let me start at the beginning. Parking was okay. No paved lots and a bit dusty, but capacity was fine. The front gate and admissions pavilion looked like something from a bad episode of "The Twilight Zone" where you go into what appears to be an abandoned carnival and get accidently transported back in time to Little Big Horn. It was kind of freaky. However, the lady at the ticket booth was very friendly. We used our Myrtle Beach VIP Card for a modest discount.

We then entered this barn-like structure that led to the zoo trail head on the other side, with squawking birds (parrots) making a very loud racket. Noelle, who I was carrying at the time, was melting down over the sharp and really loud parrot noises and began strangling me. The wood chipper was sounding pretty good right about then. However, once we got to the other side of the barn and out into daylight again, things calmed down considerably.

There are basically three paths you can choose as you wander through the zoo. The trails are adequately marked with the types of animals to see on each path. To the right was the path leading to the kangaroos and ostriches so we headed off in that direction first, figuring we'd start off with the smaller, less intimidating creatures.

Time for another disclaimer. I know less about animals than I do about needlepoint theory. So I'll do my best to describe animals in the pictures I took, but heck if I know what they really are. A good journalist would have taken notes, complete with species, latin names, genus and families, etc. I had no time for that, though. All I could think about while I was walking around was that scene in the movie "Jurassic Park" where the velociraptor escapes and smuggles the cage keys to Tyrannosaurus Rex ringleaders and suddenly the entire park population is on the loose. So if you want to spend the rest of this thread correcting me about what animal is in the picture, knock yourself out. Me? I'm just glad to be out of there and back in civilization where I only have to outrun the slowest person to avoid the prehistoric carnivores.

So the first thing we saw was a peacock smack dab in the path in front of us. It could have been a pheasant. Or Turkey. Possibly a velociraptor. You make the call.

http://www.pbase.com/traderboynh/image/ ... 4/original

Noelle was a little freaked when it spread its plummage but I told her not to worry about it. "We've eaten bigger birds on major national holidays."

Next we entered another long, narrow warehouse complex that contained a series of antique items, mostly cars from the 1930s and 1940s, and a few old refrigerators. What this had to do with a zoo I can't say, but there it was. Everthing was covered in a thick coating of dust as if the cars and fridges hadn't been moved or dusted in 70 years. Then we bumped into a zany old woman who was caretaking a bunch of what I thought were hamsters in cages along a portion of the dark and dusty corridor. So I said to Noelle, "Look, hamsters!"

Big mistake.

The zany lady started angrily lecturing me about how they WEREN'T hamsters, but mice. They would never feed a hamster to the reptiles because, and I quote, "Hamsters can be pets, and we would never feed a pet to a snake!" She left off the "You dolt!" but I can assure you it was there, hanging in the air. "These are just mice! Only mice! Understand? Don't tell your kid they're hamsters!"

Alrighty then. Moving along.

I'm sure when I'm an incontinent 87 and 40-year-old Noelle and I review these pictures, she'll be happy to know that no hamsters were swallowed whole in the making of this documentary. Only innocent mice.

We emerged back at the trail head and decided to try our luck down Trail 2.

Let me interject here that none of the pathways are paved. There are signs posted periodically that warn you about large, protruding roots from large trees that stick up in the middle of the trails. It made for some tough strolling with Kylie as her incredibly high-end Walmart Porsche stroller was taking a terrific beating on the paths. So if you have small walking children or babies in strollers, be prepared. Despite my difficulty in getting Kylie around, she seemed none the worse for wear.

http://www.pbase.com/traderboynh/image/ ... 8/original

You can practically see the thought-bubble above her head -- "Dude. There had better be a pedicure at the end of this excursion."

Trail 2 offered more of the big game animals we had hoped to see. First up was the great female African lion, I think.

http://www.pbase.com/traderboynh/image/ ... 6/original

Right? Lion? Anybody? We could actually get pretty close to these guys, but the fence didn't allow for great photography. In real zoos with scary-looking ladies that don't scream at you about mistaking a hamster for a mouse, you can generally look down onto the animals from slightly above so no fence creates havoc with your auto-focus. Here, they apparently felt that keeping the lions behind a fence was good public relations from a security perspective. So some of the pictures may be a bit blurry because I couldn't get the focal point beyond the fence.

Next up was the tiger, identified mostly because of my recollection of "The Jungle Book" or "The Lion King".

http://www.pbase.com/traderboynh/image/ ... 7/original

Most of the larger cats were hanging out in the shade because the temperature was in the low 90s which made it pretty warm in those cages and pavilions. The tiger started pacing when it saw Kylie. Fortunately Kylie was still examining her toes and didn't realize she was being sized up as an impending entree, so I didn't have to worry about coming up with funds for therapy for her later in life. I do recall stubbing a toe on a root around this point, but that's irrelevent to the story. However, I do recall thinking at the time, "I said yes to this why?" It's a recurring theme with me.

In keeping with the big cat theme, we next had the cheetah, or mountain lion, or cougar, or hamster. But it sure looked cool.

http://www.pbase.com/traderboynh/image/ ... 0/original

This was one of the few animals I managed to get without fence interference. I may have climbed up on something to get some elevation. Like Charlotte. I don't recall now.

The next sections had more familiar creatures to everyday Americans. For example, we passed by some rams, sheep, goats and a few cows.

http://www.pbase.com/traderboynh/image/ ... 4/original

This thrilled Noelle because she could actually identify these without help from her clueless grandfather. On most occasions, I'd point at an animal and ask *her* what it was.

Noelle: "I don't know."

Clueless Grandfather: "Nor do I. Next, shall we?"

Clued in Grandmother to Clueless Grandfather: "It's a wildebeest, for crying out loud. Read the sign and do your job."

And so it went. Charlotte was clearly enjoying this excursion while I viewed it on a par with a root canal, and the longer we were there, the more frustrated she got with my hurried pace. Soon I was about a quarter mile up the trail, pushing Kylie foward at breakneck speed in the Dale Earnhardt Jr. NASCAR Strollermobile while Charlotte lingered behind with Noelle, actually attempting to provide some culture and education to the kid.

http://www.pbase.com/traderboynh/image/ ... 2/original

I slowed down a bit when we made the turn at Trail 3 in the monkey section. First we saw Rafiki from "The Lion King", or at least that's the best I can do in identifying this guy.

http://www.pbase.com/traderboynh/image/ ... 8/original

I tried to convey this information to Kylie. "Look. Rafiki. Can you say 'Rafiki'?" No response. I think she was too preoccupied with her stuffed animal, which is MY kind of zoo animal -- stuffed.

http://www.pbase.com/traderboynh/image/ ... 5/original

Next we had some freakish breeding-experiment-gone-wrong between a raccoon and monkey.

http://www.pbase.com/traderboynh/image/ ... 9/original

Don't know. Afraid to ask. I shielded Kylie's eyes.

Finally rounding out the monkey family, we had the classic baboon.

http://www.pbase.com/traderboynh/image/ ... 9/original

Or not. It was making baboonish sounds so I just assumed. I know. It's probably not a baboon but does anyone really care? Maybe it's a gorilla. The point is that as long as it's not in your back yard digging up your zinnias, it's not something about which you need to be concerned. And that's what I told Kylie.

We crossed a small wooden bridge and bumped into the zebra family, which apparently includes camels (who knew?) and beaver-like thingies that caught Kylie's eye because she has a Star Wars furry creature from "Revenge of the Jedi" that is a dead ringer for the beav.

http://www.pbase.com/traderboynh/image/ ... 6/original

Meanwhile, Charlotte and Noelle were bringing up the rear, with Charlotte explaining to Noelle common American ducks as if they were new life forms just visited upon us from the planet Krypton.

By this time my internal clock that dictates that 90 minutes of zoo time is enough torture for the greatest of jungle explorers had sounded the alarm. I rolled Kylie back to the opening of the entry gatehouse and perched there while Charlotte looked up at me from afar with the "You might be the worst grandfather in recorded history" look all over her face. It didn't matter to me. Between the heat, the smell, the root system on the trails, the dust, and the constant threat of a rogue animal prison break, it was time to bail. She won't admit it even to this day, but I think there was a part of her that was ready to leave, too, because Noelle had been telling her the same knock-knock joke since the wildebeest.

So overall we had a decent enough time. If you love zoos, you'll love Waccatee. If you like zoos but you're used to San Diego or an open wild game preserve in Zambia, you might view Waccatee as a bit of a let down. If you're looking for an afternoon trip to distract kids less than 11 years old, this might be just the thing for you. If you hate zoos except for that famous Star Trek episode where hot, slinkily-dressed women were kept in cages on some distant planet in what amounted to a human zoo, later to be freed by Spock and Captain James Kirk, I'm afraid you won't like Waccatee under any circumstances.

Me? It beats a swan dive into a wood chipper. Just barely.
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