Is Lion Country Safari going to be sold?
Tuesday Jun 20th, 2017
Lion Country Safari, which has been operating in western Palm Beach County for half a century, could be sold to an animal conservationist, a spokeswoman for the park said Monday. The owners of the drive-through safari and amusement park are weighing details of the sale — a deal that could be finalized late next month, spokeswoman Jennifer Berthiaume said.
“They are working through details,” Berthiaume said. “It is possible that it will be sold …We hope to know more by the end of July. Nothing is finalized.”
Berthiaume said Lion Country has had the same owners for 50 years, adding that the proposed sale could mark “an exciting time” for the park. The sale, she said, could help Lion Country boost its conservation efforts.
“It is a great possibility,” she said.
The park’s employees were reportedly told about the sale on Monday. Lion Country, which celebrates its 50th anniversary this year, is one of the county’s top tourism attractions. The park is home to more than 900 animals. It also features five rides and a water spray ground. But it’s the drive-through safari — with five miles of road — allowing visitors to get close to animals such as lions, rhinos, giraffes and ostriches that has made it popular and prestigious. Earlier this month, Lion Country Safari was named one the best “Savanna Exhibits” in the world, according to a ranking released by Zoo Nation.
The list features the top 10 places in the world to view African wildlife outside of Africa. Lion Country took the 10th spot on Zoo Nation’s list — a ranking it is using to help draw out-of-town visitors to its drive-through zoo.
The ranking placed Lion Country among A-list attractions, including the top-rated African Plains exhibit at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park. Other exhibits on the list included: Harambe Wildlife Preserve at Disney’s Animal Kingdom in Orlando; Serengeti Plain at Busch Gardens in Tampa; and the East African Savanna at Chimelong Safari Park in Guangzhou, China.
This past month, Lion Country was named the winner of the county’s top tourism award, beating out two other finalists for the coveted title. The 2017 Providencia Award, which is awarded by Discover The Palm Beaches, the county’s tourism marketing organization, is presented to an individual or organization that has a major impact on tourism.
Lion Country owns about 640 acres just north of Southern Boulevard and west of Seminole Pratt Whitney Road. The site has been considered for development. In 2010, county commissioners voted to allow up to 254 homes on the property — quadruple the number allowed at the time under county’s long-term growth plan.
Meanwhile, just west of Lion Country, construction is well underway on Arden — a massive, nature-focused development slated to have 2,000 homes in 10 years. Freehold Communities — the Arden developers — say the community will be like no other in Palm Beach County. Nearly every home will back up to a park, greenway or nature trail. The community will feature a mile-long lake in the center of the property, and residents will share in the harvest of fresh vegetables from a community farm.