Inside look: Wild Acres Hands on Animal Experience

If you’re like me, you love zoo or aquarium trips and getting to interact with animals while learning more about their habitats in the wild. I was super excited when one of my friends decided to book a trip to Wild Acres Hands on Animal Experience in McHenry, Mississippi. Wild Acres was started in 2016 by Cody Breland and was originally a traveling hands-on petting zoo. The farm gained notoriety in 2019 when “JoJo” the kangaroo escaped after a thunderstorm popped up while at Bayou View Elementary. JoJo went hopping off and had many people in the community looking for him until two days later when he was captured and returned to Breland. We decided to do the sloth encounter, which is a 30-minute experience with the resident sloth, Sammy. We got to hold, pet, feed, and take selfies with him! We also got a private one-hour tour with guides who let us go in enclosures with some of the animals.

The tour started off with us driving onto the property and being greeted by both a camel and a zebra. There are also chickens roaming around and a black cat named Salem. Since we booked a group tour, we had champagne while in the aviary waiting for Sammy. Once we got to meet Sammy, I was amazed at how soft a sloth is. We found out that sloths live in the rain forest, don’t have the best vision, and love romaine lettuce! While everyone in the group got to spend time with Sammy, the others were playing with some of the birds in the aviary. Bobby, a rescued cockatoo was very vocal and playful along with some of the other African birds. After I had a very colorful bird try to drink my champagne, I got to hold a baby kangaroo named Boomer, who was super adorable. We headed to our first stop which was the Madagascar lemurs.

Following the lemurs, we got to feed two porcupines, one named Lady Gaga. Apparently, they love squash and zucchini as snacks. They are just huge rodents with very dangerous tails. The guide told us that one porcupine quill can go through a lion’s skull, so they really don’t have that many predators in the wild. After that, we got to meet Patrick the ostrich and Chip the cow, followed by Kira the African caracal, which is a medium-sized wildcat. We also got to hang out, pet, and feed capybaras and cavies which are large (but cute) rodents. Other highlights from the tour: getting to see Finn the cougar, a coatimundi (like an African racoon), parrots and other tropical birds, an alpaca, and getting to see the older kangaroos. After our tour ended, we booked the pavilion and had a picnic with charcuterie and champagne. There is a small gift shop that has t-shirts and stuffed animal sloths available for guests to purchase.

Wild Acres has several different packages available and is open Wednesday through Sunday for private tours by appointment only. All ages are welcome for the tours. They also have different events you can sign up for like Trick or Treat (coming up in October) Safari paint parties, which include bottomless mimosas, donuts, a guided paint class in the pavilion, and a tour with the animals. Information and tickets can be found on their Facebook page. Wild Acres is located at 84 Our Road, McHenry, MS 39561. It was a really awesome way to spend the morning with friends and we walked away with a ton of fun memories!

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Written by Kathryn Winter

A Gulf Coast native, Kathryn is a graduate of The University of Mississippi Journalism School and has written for various publications among the South.

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