In November 2007, I took a day trip out to to Billie Swamp Safari, which is out on the Seminole reservation out in the middle of the state north of the Everglades. It is an adventure in real Florida.
Of course, along with some nature trails, the gift shop, and a little restaurant, they have a number of animal exhibits, including turtles like those at right, and several kinds of crocodilians like the gator below (click on the gator to see a larger version):
And, this being Florida, there are also native critters
hanging around, like the Black Racer at left, who slid across
the sidewalk (click on the picture to see a
closeup with his tongue out!)
But there are two major adventures to try here:
the airboat ride and
the swamp buggy ride.
The airboat ride takes you out on the water.
|You go past these little chickee huts, which are available for camping. I wasn't staying overnight, however!|
|It takes you to places you can't get to otherwise, like this lovely cypress grove, where we stopped for a while to enjoy the peacefulness.|
|There were also gators hanging aorund the cypress grove with us.|
|The guide was great, albeit a little crazy. He decided I had to try fishing with this little line that was like a stick with a string and a bent paper clip. In about 5 seconds I got a bite and pulled in this fish (which he then insisted I had to have my picture taken with). I forget what kind of fish he told me it was, but as I recall it was a non-native fish so he fed it to the alligator.|
A ways further along, we stopped again at a place where there were wild pigs. The guide had food for them, which they were obviously expecting:
The pigs were so bold, in fact, that a couple of them would come up on the edge of the boat to be fed:
|I think this guy knew he was posing for a picture.|
|All the commotion also attracted several alligators.|
... and apparently for the same reason; our guide gave them some of the food too:
|I told you he was a little crazy :-)|
|I even got to pretend I was driving the boat.|
The swamp buggy is a vehicle with enormous tires that allow it to go into areas that are often flooded. It takes you into areas that you otherwise couldn't get to, where they have a variety of animals roaming around. Initially I was surprised that they weren't all native Florida animals, but I guess they want to make sure you see something interesting.
The guide/driver of the buggy was also very entertaining. Here's some of what we saw this day:
|Bison (American buffalo).|
|I believe they said this was a Scottish Red Deer.|
|These are Osceola Turkeys; they are native to Florida.|
|But my favorite was probably the mother ostrich.|
Her babies were just so cute! I have a larger closeup of one of the babies.
They also offer a couple of animal demos: a reptile show and a "critter show". This day I saw the critter show, which was heavy on the reptiles but also included some other critters. Here's a little of what they showed:
|This monster is an alligator snapper. This is a little one.|
And at the end, they let me hold a tiny little gator...