38650 Mickler Road, Dade City
Home to families of giraffes, zebras and ostriches, the 47-acre Giraffe Ranch also has plenty of room to roam for many animals that are endangered or extinct in the wild, like the Indian rhinoceros, Père David’s deer, dama gazelle and scimitar horned oryx. You can hand-feed otters, lemurs and, of course, giraffes, get close to a rhinoceros, pet a camel or tortoise and hike alongside a llama, all while accompanied by knowledgeable guides. Tours are held twice daily by Segway or covered safari vehicles.
Big Cat Rescue
12802 Easy St., Tampa
Big Cat Rescue is one of the largest accredited sanctuaries in the world dedicated to the care of big cats. They have been rescuing exotic cats since 1992 and are currently home to about 80 lions, tigers, bobcats, cougars and other species, most of whom were abandoned, abused or orphaned. If you want a truly personal experience, take the Private Photo Tour, where you can spend more time with your favorite feline in order to get the purrrfect photo or video. Big Cat Rescue also offers quarterly night tours, where guests have just a flashlight and their guide as they pass each cat enclosure.
10850 Moore Road, Lakeland
Ranked one of the top 10 best safaris in America by Fodor’s Travel, you might think you’ve been transported to the Okavango Delta in Botswana when you see a herd of red lechwe, zebras and other exotic game running across the open expanse of the 260-acre ranch. Visitors can kayak to a private island of lemurs, ride a camel or cruise along the park in a customized vehicle. Take the summertime-only Sunset Safari and you’ll be rewarded with cooler temperatures and more active animals; you’ll also get to end your evening in a treehouse with a 360-degree view of the property as the sun begins to set.