Mon | Jul 16, 2018

Krysta The Explorer | Wild Adventures of Jamaica Zoo

Published:Monday | July 2, 2018 | 12:17 AM
Paul Fearon's son, Pablo, was right at home as he held the baby crocodile at Jamaica Zoo.
The iguana perched on Krysta Anderson's hat was all the accessory she needed.
Baby crocodile? No problem! Krysta Anderson holds it with a bright smile.
Sherlon and Shannoya Harrison cradle one big snake.
Shorn Hector took a break from being behind the camera and landed front and centre with his trusty parrot sidekick.
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There's nothing like bringing out the kid in you again. And what better way to unleash that wild side than by revisiting Mother Nature and tapping into animal instinct? The team and I ventured to Lacovia, St Elizabeth, to discover Jamaica Zoo's roaring review.

Owner and CEO of Jamaica Zoo, Paul Fearon, was already actively engaged in a tour when we arrived on property. By the time it was our turn, Fearon gave his grand introduction, and made us all feel welcome on spot! With hype music pumping through the speakers, we clapped to the rhythm with excitement as we eagerly awaited the grand appearances of his slinky and feathery friends.

A few jumped in fear at the sight of the snakes, iguana and baby crocodile. While others, like myself, indulged in the interactive hands-on approach readily available for us to enjoy. By the time we met the parrot, everyone had whet their curiosity as far as petting the animals were concerned.

Jamaica Zoo, which opened its gates eight years ago, was born out of the need to create a one-of-a-kind animal attraction of this interactive nature in his homeland. "There was no zoo at the time in Jamaica. And when I went to Cuba, I saw that the kids were really into that aspect of life, while the children here on home soil were being deprived." So Fearon satisfied that niche and hasn't looked back since.

The zoo is home to 25 different species of animals, and Fearon, who had always been an animal lover, trained all the animals himself. He was right when he thought the masses were missing out on staring the lion in its face: persons, he shared, are always excited when they go to visit, describing their journey into the Jamaica Zoo wild life as a totally different experience. "We get them up close and personal with the animals and ensure that they have a more upbeat and 'vibesy' interaction. Children from all over the world visit, but what surprises me the most is how many adults are in attendance: they really appreciate having this luxury that was missing from their childhood memories," he told Flair. He noted, however, that he doesn't think the government pays keen attention to this area of this culture, and he would love to see a change in that regard.

 

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With plans to put in beautiful waterfalls, and hopes to bring in more annual events like their 'all schools free, event, a feature available to all schools across Jamaica which has been in effect five years running, he encourages everyone to partake in the Jamaica Zoo experience. "We have a friendly, well-trained staff, offer a unique experience, and we're one of the only zoos in the Caribbean that will hear the lion roar!" We'll get to that soon.

From there, Veneisha Dickson became our Jamaica Zoo tour guide. Doras and Diegos of my team, with Veneisha's help, explored and gathered enlightening information on macaus, snakes, squirrels, rabbits, iguanas, a buffalo, crocodiles, spider monkeys as well as capuchin monkeys, domestic ducks, and for the big finish, Santa and Sainty, two lions named after Santa Cruz and St Elizabeth. Roaring doesn't begin to describe the sounds that came from those two. Danger seemed to lurk beyond those cages, and many from the group either drew closer to the pen to see the massive brothers get riled up, running in anxiety while releasing mighty roars, or ran for cover in the blazing sun at the threatening sounds echoing in the park. Fearon was not kidding when he spoke about those lions! In the end, everyone left Jamaica Zoo pleased by the wild adventure. Check out Team Flair's highlights.

For more information contact Jamaica Zo at 876-487-3001

krysta.anderson@gleanerjm.com