BANDON - Lions and tigers and even a baby brown bear, were all part of recent field trip to the West Coast Game Park Safari in Bandon for a group of students attending Oregon Connections Academy.

The 50-year old “walk-through” safari covers 20 acres of land and is home to more than 75 species of exotic and unusual animals. Several students, parents and teachers from the statewide online public charter school experienced hands-on interactions with a few of the animals including a bobcat and a fox kit. The park staff feels it’s important to allow personal interactions between visitors and the animals to enhance education about wildlife conservation and extinction.

Teresa Lichte from Reedsport, with three boys enrolled in Oregon Connections Academy, said her students, “Learned a lot of things about all the animals. They learned that foxes give off a skunky smell, the baby brown bear was really soft and they didn’t know how high up a tree a peacock could climb.”

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Christina Duval from Bandon went on the field trip with her son Lucas, an eighth-grader at Oregon Connections Academy. Duval said they both, “Really enjoyed meeting new families and seeing teachers we are familiar with.” Duval added, “The favorite part of the trip for Lucas was watching a 10-month old lion being fed by his handler. All the workers were kind and knew a lot about the animals they care for. The game park was a blast.”

Over 450 animals live at the park, many have been hand-raised by staff. West Coast Game Park claims to be the state’s largest, totally self-supported wildlife attraction, dedicated to the propagation of many endangered species and preservation.

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