With expectations high, camera in one hand and safari hat on my head, I made my way down to Animal World at Emerald Resort and Casino. Not to jump to the end of my story, but what an awesome experience it was. The first stop was the ticket station where friendly and very helpful staff welcomed me. The ticket price was very reasonable and totally worth the experience.
I had a choice of visiting the zoo with its huge variety of animals; approximately 500 animals representing 88 different species or enjoy a game drive through the 190 hectare game park. My mind was made up, why not do both? I had an hour to spare before my very knowledgeable and experienced field guide would take me on a game drive. This however was barely enough time to view the exotic birds, reptiles and land mammals in the 14 hectare zoo enclousures.
The zoo route is clearly marked and the staff that I met were friendly and undoubtedly totally in love with the animals under their care. There are so many animals to view, I don't even know where to begin, flamingos in their distinctive coral shade, spotted eagle owls, brown tufted capuchin monkeys, Bubbles the hippo and his best friend Bok the Boerbok, spotted hyena, ring tailed lemur, Nile crocodile, Canadian wolfs, cheetah and of course the king himself (just to name but a few of the animals I have seen). My favourite is Scaly World with a large selection of snakes from all over the world and Africa. I am sure Scaly World will be very scary for some.
Before I knew my hour was up, but I was certain my game drive would be just as good as my time at the zoo. I grabbed something cold at the on-site kiosk and headed to the pick-up point to meet my field guide who was already waiting for me when I arrived. My game drive was informative with and experienced and knowledgable guide who afforded me the opportunity to see 14 species of animals in their natural habitat such as impala, springbok, gemsbok, ostrich, Roan antelope, zebra, blesbok and one of the most beautiful antelope I have ever seen, the Matetsi sable. Also look out for duiker, Cape fox, mongoose, giraffe and the animal that sounds like Africa, the majestic fish eagle.
The game drive, as with the zoo was over all too quickly, but as they say, time flies when you are having fun. I would recommend Animal World to both families and individuals. Experience the zoo or the game drive or why not both like I did.
Animal World is open from Monday to Sunday from 9:00 - 16:15. Zoo entrance is R55 per adult, R35 per child under 12 and R20 for pensioners. Game drive entrance is R50 per adutl.child. but less during mid-week visits.
For more information visit www.emeraldcasino.co.za or call 016 982 8257.
Written & photographs by Brandon Stuart