Not sure why, but when I heard that I could get up close to a sloth at Animal Adventure Park in Harpursville, New York, I just had to visit. Sloths are those adorable and lethargic animals that live in treetops of Central and South America’s tropical forests. They spend much of their lives in this jungle canopy, snoozing and remaining hidden from predators. They live solitary lives and travel from tree to tree using canopy vines.
Jordan Patch, Animal Adventure Park’s owner, exhibits about 250 animals representing almost 100 species. Each animal has a name, and Patch knows them all. Housed in heated quarters, Patch has three sloths named Ruby, Chi Chi, and Monroe. I’m pictured here feeding Ruby. Ruby is a two-toed sloth, which makes it easy to tell us apart. I have five toes. When awake, Ruby and her house-mates move in very slooowww motion. I learned they each sleep 18 to 20 hours per day. I’m so jealous.
Guests can enjoy private animal encounters not only with the sloths, but with river otters or with penguins. These private encounters responsibly connect guests with this wildlife, communicating the importance of conservation and providing education through interactive engagement.
While I was drawn to the sloths, the most popular attraction here is April the Giraffe, who rose to fame in February 2017 when Patch decided to live stream April as she gave birth to her son, Tajiri. It became the second most watched live-stream video in YouTube history with over 232 million views and 7.6 billion minutes of live watch time. Since then, visitors have flocked to the park to see them live. April remains a big hit thanks to that fame and her very human-friendly demeanor.
“Every single day at the park we welcome a dozen to two dozen people from out of state traveling to Harpursville, New York, to meet a famous giraffe,” Patch says. “Weekly we have international visitors, here to see a giraffe they met on-line and fell in love with.”
Business came naturally to Patch, who in his teens bought and sold reptiles and other exotic pets. Eventually, he would own a pet store before switching to a bar and grill enterprise. When he lost the business in a flood, the opportunity to blend his two passions re-emerged.
“Animal Adventure came to be from a vision of a beautiful farm, big empty fields and a camel named Max,” recalls Patch. “What started out with a handful of animals and a dream has turned into this reality that continues to unfold and the opportunities are endless.” In the beginning, there were about 20 acres and a couple of exhibits, including the aforementioned Max. Animal Adventure has grown much, much larger, attracting hundreds of thousands annually.
“People can go to just about any animal facility and encounter animals,” he concludes. ”What we’re doing here is different in the sense that we’re allowing them to literally immerse themselves in our environment and fall in love with the animals.”