By Laura Claverie

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Take a tour to meet all the exotic animals at Global Wildlife Center in Louisiana
Take the family to see a wide range of exotic animals at the Global Wildlife Center in Folsom, Louisiana.

Ever wanted to try something really different? A visit to the Global Wildlife Center in Folsom, Louisiana always makes the top of the favorite things to do in Louisiana list! You get up close and personal to a wide range of exotic animals as they roam in this pristine country side refuge.

When 10-year-old Caitlin and her family visited for a safari-style tour at the Global Wildlife Center in Folsom, Louisiana, they got to experience the beauty of these wild animals. The Global Wildlife Center is a 900-acre, free-roaming conservation center home to more than 4,000 exotic and endangered animals. Each year, 250,000 nature lovers visit the beautiful habitat and take the 90-minute ride in a covered, open-air wagon to see winged, striped and horned creatures move freely on the manicured grounds. The tour is part petting zoo, part biology lecture, part entertainment and a lot of fun.

Caitlin leaned over the side of the safari wagon to pet an enormous, double-humped Bactrian camel and exclaimed, “His nose feels weird and his hair feels greasy!”

Throughout the slow ride (so you can visit all the animals!), visitors learn about the ecology of wildlife, the different personalities of many of the animals and the importance of preserving these precious creatures.

In one area, more than a dozen kangaroos hop around or sit quietly under the shade of a large tree. There are also families of giraffes, herds of American bison, Texas longhorns, llamas and many other rare animals who live peacefully at this Louisiana haven. In many cases, nearly extinct animals thrive at Global Wildlife, making an impact on the species. In 1989, with only 16 left in the world, the Father David Deer, a native of mainland China had almost disappeared. Matherne and his staff obtained five of these extremely rare deer and brought them to their refuge. Now, visitors can view 200 of the Father David Deer as they soak in a nearby pond, or munch on the grass as the safari wagon rides by.

The center was the brainchild of Ken Matherne, who inherited the land from his father and began collecting exotic animals in 1989. He opened the gates to the public in 1991, and it is now considered the largest center of its kind in the United States. Matherne and his wife live and work on the grounds of the nonprofit facility.

That is the mission of the Global Wildlife Center: to allow these majestic creatures to live freely while in a protected environment and to help man learn from this peaceable kingdom, enjoying these exotic and endangered animals in the most beautiful of settings.   

Book your tour today at the Global Wildlife Center, just a short drive to Folsom from New Orleans.

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