Port Clinton's African Safari opened for the season today. This is the first time the park has been open since it lost ten animals in a fire this past Thanksgiving. The park delayed their opening by two weeks this year to make sure they were ready for the public.
The animals were very excited to greet 13abc, and we were excited to see them, as well. There was no trace of the fire that raged just months ago.
"We're all a bit nervous, a little bit anxious because this is the first time that people are going to see us after the fire," says Kelsey Keller, technical advisor for African Safari.
That fire took the lives of ten animals at the park.
"We work here and we care about these animals and we love them so much. But I definitely don't think we realized how much the community loves us," says Keller.
"We received donations from a lot of local businesses, as well as the local elementary school, and we were able to donate all of that money to the Giraffe Conservation Foundation, which does work directly with giraffes in Africa which is awesome," says Keller.
Today is a new beginning for the park and a new experience for the Keller family.
"The alpacas were inside our car," says sixteen-year-old Amelia Boerger.
"The bison were very close to us," says her thirteen-year-old brother Jack.
"The deers were everywhere," says the last Boerger child, eight-year-old Ellenee.
The Boergers drove through the safari twice.
"Our animals are very excited to see you. They are like running at cars today. They are like jazzed. They could not be happier," says Keller.
"We are really excited to give you that feel of an up-close and personal experience with animals. it'll change your life. I promise. It changes ours every day," says Keller.
The safari is open every day 10-5, with the last car admitted at 4. The drive-through is the only portion open now, but the walk-through safari is set to open on May 9th.
Today the park was expecting about 12 cars, but instead, there were 23 carrying approximately 100 people.