Review of Wildlife in Need- Charlestown, Indiana
2020 Update: An Indiana judge has granted the state’s motion to remove all animals, excluding big cats, from Wildlife in Need by Sept. 18. FULL STORY HERE.
Note: This place has come under scrutiny with local and national news after our visit. The most recent story is HERE. See other stories here and here to determine for yourself if you want to patronize it. There’s also information here on the Indiana Animal Rights Alliance website.
My husband and I recently took our two daughters to Charlestown, Indiana to participate in a fundraising event for a nonprofit organization called Wildlife in Need. This organization is dedicated to helping exotic and endangered species. They are currently offering two events (Tiger Baby Playtime and Exotic Animal Encounter) to help raise money to support their cause. These events won’t last long so check out their Facebook page to keep up to date with these events, as well as new events that are posted.
It was an easy 25 minute drive to get to Charlestown from downtown Louisville. When we arrived at Wildlife in Need we were greeted by a lady who checked our tickets and told us where to park. They are finishing several construction projects so you will not enter the facility, but will enter a large tent set up out front. The tent is divided into two sections: Tiger Baby Playtime and Exotic Animal Encounter. We had tickets for the Exotic Animal Encounter. Inside our tent was a circle of chairs where about 35 people could be seated. When it was time to start, an animal handler gave each person a grape while talking about Wildlife in Need and their mission. He then began to tell us about the monkey he was holding. As he was talking, the monkey ran across our laps and then jumped up to run across our backs. My daughters were in awe of the little guy! He stopped and ate a few grapes along the way, including my one year old daughter’s grape. She laughed the entire time he was eating it out of her hand. The handler made sure everyone got a chance to pet the monkey or take pictures before he put him away and brought out another animal.
With the Exotic Animal Encounter you get to meet about half of the 12 different animals they have for this event, depending on the animal’s mood that day. On our particular visit we got to encounter two different monkeys, a sea otter, baby kangaroo, white fox, and a tiger. We were able to pet each animal that was brought out, with the exception of the sea otter and tiger. Even though we didn’t get to pet the tiger, it was so cool to be that close to a tiger who wasn’t caged up.
My daughters had the best time! They’ve seen some of these animals at the zoo, but never got to be so close or hands on with them. We brought our camera and were allowed to take pictures. At the end of the event you can have a picture taken with your camera holding any of the animals from the session for $10 per animal.
The other event was the Tiger Baby Playtime. It gives you the opportunity to be up close and personal with baby tigers for about 30 minutes in a large group setting. You do get to touch and play with these tigers, unlike the larger tiger we saw in our event. We haven’t participated in this event yet, but plan to in the future. I have heard great things about it, and it sells out super fast. To see future dates and times, plus read a description of each event, check out the event website.
The price for the Tiger Playtime is a $25 donation and the Exotic Animal Encounter is a $20 donation. There is no age restriction (parent discretion). Everyone attending must have a ticket, even small children and babies. All donations to the facility are tax deductible and help support their efforts. It may seem like a lot of money, but I was willing to pay because it goes to a great cause and it’s not often that you get a chance to interact with baby tigers or pet a kangaroo!
(Please note: They are only allowing children under 16 through July 19th. When they finish their facility they will offer tours for all ages, but for right now if people want to bring their children under 16 to one of the fundraising events (animal encounter or baby tiger playtime) they have to do it very soon. Also, read comments below from other readers.)