Wild and Amazing

by Sharon Eagles-McCants

alligatorLooking for wild places to visit while in Myrtle Beach? Try these three enthralling places that are sure to amaze. From lions, tigers and bears to snakes, alligators and bats, the Alligator Adventure, Brookgreen Garden Zoo and the Waccatee Zoo are wild and wonderful place to get up-close and personal with the wonders of Mother Nature.

With the Atlantic Ocean as its backdrop, the Grand Strand has other bodies of water that intertwine throughout. The Waccamaw River, the Intracoastal Waterway, Pee Dee River, Yauhanna River and Busbee Lake all provide plenty of opportunity to see river critters, water fowl and fish of every kind on any given day. But, what if I told you to add a peacock, a tiger or a bat to your list of things to see?

Filled with reptiles of all species, the Alligator Adventure, located in Barefoot Landing, calls itself the “Reptile Capitol of the World.” Besides having the largest crocodiles in the world, it also features the rare albino alligator. Though reptiles are its claim to fame, Alligator Adventure has more to it than what its name implies such as tigers, bob cats, bats and exotic birds. This extraordinary zoological park offers admission to adults for $21.99 and children, ages 4 to 12, pay $16.99. You have to contact the park at (843) 361-0789 for current park hours.

On the South end of the Grand Strand sits another one of nature’s phenoms: the Brookgreen Gardens Zoo. A part of Brookgreen Gardens, the zoo is accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. Because the native animals that live in the woods, swamps and waters of the Lowcountry are becoming more and more displaced, the zoo serves as a natural haven to alligators, bald eagles, foxes, owls and otters. There’s also the Cypress Aviary, the only known aviary built over an existing cypress swamp. Visitors are encourages to stroll through on an elevated boardwalk to observe the birds such as egrets, herons, and ducks feeding and flying in a natural setting. Brookgreen Gardens is open daily from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. The price of admission into the park includes entry into the zoo: adults, ages 13 – 64, pay $14; seniors, over age 64, pay $12; and kids, ages 4 to 7, pay $7. More information about the zoo and exhibits can be obtained through the Brookgreen Gardens web site, www.brookgreen.org.

A little off the beaten path but well worth the drive is the Waccatee Zoological Farm. This privately owned zoo is home to more than 100 species of animals including buffalo, zebras, lions, tigers and bears. It also has Chico, the chimp, who watches his own television. The zoo provides hours of natural fun for all ages, but children seem the most impressed by the large assortment of unusual wildlife. Perfectly situated where the Waccamaw River, Intracoastal Waterway and the Socastee Creek join, the Waccatee Zoo is a natural sanctuary and breeding ground for migratory birds. The zoo is open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and is moderately priced at $ 10 for adults; $4 for kids, ages 12 months to 12 years old; and free for those 11 months old and under. Special rates are given to groups of 15 or more. For more information on the Waccatee Zoo, call (843) 650-8500.