Pike County residents have a little piece of the jungle close to home this week.
The Jungle Safari traveling exhibition is visiting Troy and is located in the Southland Village parking lot, near Country’s Barbecue and Rite-Aid
Robert Engesser, the owner and manager of Jungle Safari, said the business is a family tradition and traveling exhibitions help to support that business.
“My mom and dad did this long before I did. They have a petting farm in Florida, but now they are retired, and me and my wife run it,” Engesser said. “We breed and raise big cats, other animals, stuff like that. The way we support that farm is by going into different venues like this one here and bringing some of the animals for the local people here to see.”
The owners of Southland Village brought Jungle Safari to Troy in an attempt to boost business.
“The reason that Jungle Safari is here is because the owners of Southland shopping center brought them here,” said President of the Pike County Economic Development Corporation Marsha Gaylard. “They did it to bring potential customers and to hopefully help the businesses there in the shopping center.”
But, there are other benefits to having Jungle Safari in town, as well.
“It provides an activity, something fun for young people to do while they’re out of school,” Gaylard said.
Engesser said the first day reflected Gaylard’s sentiments.
“We’ve had quite a few kids come out here. About 2 or 2:30, it slowed down a little bit, but now it looks like mom and dad are getting off work and bringing the kids back out,” Engesser said.
Engesser said he was pleased with the turnout and expected it to grow as the week goes on.
“Being the first day, we haven’t had a bad crowd. We normally see 400 or 500 people the first day. By Saturday, we’ll usually see 1,500 or 2,000 people in a day, so by the end of the week, we should have had about 5,000 or 6,000 people through here,” Engesser said.
There are many different animals to see at the Jungle Safari, most of which are open for free viewing to the public.
Jungle Safari has a Bengal tiger, two ring-tailed lemurs, a kangaroo, two weeper capuchin monkeys, a baby tiger cub, a baby lion cub, llamas, goats, cows and a camel all available for free viewing.
The only animals that cost money to see are a white tiger and black leopard that cost $1 per person to view.
Jungle Safari will also offer a 7:30 p.m. public feeding.
“That doesn’t mean we feed the public or any unruly children, but people are more than welcome to watch while we feed the big cats. At that time, we give a public lecture about the animals and their background and what we do with them here in captivity,” Engesser said.
Besides animals, there are also concessions available.
“The Troy-Pike Cultural Arts Center is selling concessions there as a fundraiser, so it’s just a great opportunity for people in the community to support several different things, both merchants and organizations,” Gaylard said.
The Jungle Safari will be in Troy until Sunday. It will be open from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. until Saturday and from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday.