Area African farm and petting zoo prepares for 30-acre expansion

Amanda Badger, owner of Wild Hearts African Farm in Lewisburg, Ohio

Credit: Contributed

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Amanda Badger, owner of Wild Hearts African Farm in Lewisburg, Ohio

Credit: Contributed

Wild Hearts African Farm and Petting Zoo, a wildlife conservation nonprofit, started construction on its new education center making way for family learning and job opportunities.

The new addition to the petting zoo will boost the organization’s ability to teach students and families about wildlife preservation efforts and issues with hands-on activities and programing, said Amanda Badger, founder and director of Wild Hearts African Farm.

“Wild Hearts African Farm is excited to bring our community a new education center where families, students, and travelers can experience holistic community-based conservation methods, participate in hands-on learning, and create fun-filled memories,” Badger said.

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The zoo didn’t have an education center before, but the addition will allow for new programing including guided tours, livestock guard dog simulation and driving tours through mixed species pastures.

“The goal has been to operate a center on our property, that helps bring to light the issues facing conservation and wildlife especially through the lens of an African farmer,” she said.

Wild Hearts’ new addition is funded through a $400,000 State Capital Budget grant and will be built on donated property located next to its current location at 8079 Salem Road, Lewisburg. The facility will expand the farm from four acres to more than 30 acres.

Badger had an interest in animals since she was young. The petting zoo, in Lewisburg, houses African animals, domesticated livestock, and rescued area wildlife and small exotic animals.

Badger said the new facility will not change pricing for the petting zoo tours, but the prices for the new programing will be competitive.

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Since 2014, when the organization opened, it was operated by volunteers. The new facility will create about 10 jobs, allow them to offer walk-in admission nearly year-round, and conduct several tours simultaneously.

“As Ohio’s first Humane Certified zoo, visitors can be assured that their support is helping us to continue to provide excellent care for our animals, and a clean, safe, fun and educational resource for our guests,” Badger said in a statement.

The facility is projected to be finished by this winter.

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