For the defuct Australian Theme Park see African Lion Safari (Warragamba)
African Lion Safari
is a safari park
situated in Flamborough
, Hamilton, Ontario
, about 100 km west of Toronto
. The mailing address is in Cambridge, Ontario
. It features more than 1,000 animals, representing over 130 species of mammals and birds from across the globe. Guests are treated to seven game reserves (with a total area of about 300 hectares) traversed via tour buses or the visitors’ own vehicles where animals roam freely in large contained areas. Accompanying the game reserves is a large walking section where hundreds of exotic birds and primates, as well as the park’s herd of Asian Elephants, are on display.
The African Lion Safari also offers two complimentary tours; the first on boat around a lake whose islands are inhabited by various primates of the world, and the second by train through a natural wetland, which provides excellent opportunities of viewing local wildlife. The natural setting of the entire park provides excellent bird watching opportunities, and both unusual and common birds such as Baltimore orioles, great egrets, red-tailed hawks, Caspian terns, hooded mergansers, pileated woodpeckers and teals have been observed at different times of year across the park.
Beyond the displays, the Lion Safari provides regularly scheduled shows featuring their collection of raptors (birds of prey), parrots and Asian elephants. The Asian Elephants are also led through the park twice daily for a swim in full view of the public. Other attractions include elephant and pony rides, a petting zoo, a large wet-play area, a playground, a discovery center and multiple food and souvenir shops.
Animals from African Lion Safari have appeared in many movies and television shows. Recently Safari elephants were seen in The Love Guru.
African Lion Safari is open from the first weekend in May to the weekend of Canadian Thanksgiving in October.
The park was founded by Gordon Debenham "Don" Dailley
, a retired Canadian Army
colonel, and opened its doors on August 22, 1969. Dailley, initially partnered the Chipperfield family from England, purchased five farms in the Rockton, Ontario area and imported 23 lions from a reserve in Florida
. He bought out the Chipperfields in the early 1970s. Dailley's sons Don and James, along with their sister Ginny, took over operations in 1989, following their father's death. It remains privately owned and operated.
The original size of the park was 0.8 km² (200 acres) and the only significant feature was the drive-through reserve. In 1971 the park began working with Asian elephants and in 1985 they started to make a concentrated effort to breed Asian elephants. Over the years successful breeding of 30 endangered species and 20 threatened species has occurred in the park.
Although African Lion Safari does have an on-site bus in which to tour the park, public transportation to the park itself is limited.
The Park Today
Simba Lion Country
Duma Cheetah Preserve
Wankie Bushland Trail
In an intermediary pen along the monkey bypass road Spotted Fallow Deer may occasionally be seen.
Rocky Ridge Veldt
African Queen Boat
Nature Boy Scenic Railway
Birds of Prey
Over the years the African Lion Safari’s investments to the captive breeding programs of hundreds of species have resulted in incredible success. Today the park has world-class animal care facilities, with staff who are the envy of the zoological world. The park currently boasts the most successful Asian Elephant breeding program in North America, and has received in recent years several CAZA awards, including those recognizing outstanding achievements in the care of both cheetahs and giraffes. The African Lion Safari was one of the first zoological institutions in the world to adopt an in-depth giraffe ultrasounding program. From the winter 2007 to the summer of 2008 alone, two Rothschild’s giraffes, two cheetahs and the first third generation Asian Elephant elephant in North America were born at the safari.
The park is involved in the International SSPs for Asian Elephants, cheetahs, white rhinos and cinereous vultures, and also an active and founding member of the International Elephant Foundation (IEF), the International Association of Avian Trainers and Educators (IAATE) and the Canadian Association of Zoos and Aquariums (CAZA) itself.
Futhermore, the African Lion Safari has provided captive bred Barn and Burrowing Owls, Trumpeter Swans, Ferruginous Hawks and a Bald Eagle to reintroduction programmes for release into the wild.
The culmination of all of these make the African Lion Safari a leader on the world stage of zoological parks.
Monkeys and Large Cats
The African Lion Safari permits guests to drive their own vehicles through the game reserves. However, these reserves are inhabited by wild animals, all of which could pose a potential threat to the customers were they on foot. Most notable of these animals are the lions, cheetahs, and baboons. Lions and cheetahs rank among the largest carnivores on earth and are both more than capable of killing humans. The threat from baboons may seem less obvious, but their large teeth and unclean habits make contact with these animals equally undesirable. As such, the Safari requires guests to keep their doors, windows and sunroofs closed at all times when traversing the reserves. Logically, if a vehicle cannot close its windows, doors or sunroof, or if the safety of the vehicle is otherwise compromised (e.g. large cracks in the windshield), the vehicles are not permitted to enter the game reserves. Guests may still enter the park and enjoy the reserves via the air-conditioned tour buses.
The park also does not permit feeding or touching of any animals in the reserves, as feeding promotes begging, an unnatural behaviour for the animals. Adding extra food to the animals diet can also risks the animals’ health and often leads to obesity in the animals. It is also a great way to get your fingers nipped.
The parks’ active troop of baboons have been known to cause minor exterior and non-life-threatening damage to vehicles such as removing weather stripping, bending or breaking antennae, or breaking exterior reflectors. While curious, the monkeys often leave vehicles alone providing the customers inside do not encourage them to board the vehicles by offering them food. Nevertheless a slip road is provided for all guests who wish to avoid the monkeys and any potential damage to their vehicles.
There have been some unfortunate events at the park over the years:
- In November 1989, a 21-year-old part-time employee and biology student at McMaster University was crushed to death by a five-tonne bull elephant named Tusko while trying to break up a fight between it and another elephant.
- In April 1996, a couple driving through the game reserve lowered the windows to their car and were mauled by a Bengal tiger. They later launched a lawsuit against the park which took several years to resolve. Finally in January 2005, a court awarded them and their families $2.5 million for disobedience of both the park staff and posted signs.