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Noah's Ark to have overnight camping

Special photo
Charlie Hedgecoth (left) introduces "Gable," the spider monkey, to some of the campers. The Adventure Safari Camp features encounters with some of Noah's Ark's primates.

Special photo Charlie Hedgecoth (left) introduces "Gable," the spider monkey, to some of the campers. The Adventure Safari Camp features encounters with some of Noah's Ark's primates.

Animal lovers can enjoy a mini-safari, without ever leaving Henry County.

Noah's Ark Animal Rehabilitation Center and Children's Care Home will have an Adventure Safari Camp July 30-31, from 7 p.m., to 11 a.m. Noah's Ark is located at 712 Locust Grove-Griffin Road, in Locust Grove.

The cost to attend the camp will be a $100 tax-deductible donation, per person, said Diane Smith, a spokesperson for Noah's Ark. "We do it as a fund-raiser," said Smith. "It's a fun way for people to learn more about Noah's Ark."

The money raised from the event will go toward general operating expenses, she said. "It's a minimum of $10,000 a month for the feeding costs," said Smith. "We have over 1,200 animals."

She said participants can take a "flashlight safari" through the facility's exotic animal habitats, during a nighttime excursion to visit some of the animals. There will be wagon rides to hand-feed the horses and cows in the field, bonfires, wiener and marshmallow roasts, and camping under the stars, said Smith.

Participants are encouraged to bring tents and sleeping bags. The next morning, a continental breakfast will be served in the dining hall, she said.

In addition to the meal, the facility brings out some of its primates during the camp. "The next morning, we have a monkey encounter," said Smith.

An Animal Adventure Safari Camp was held last month, she said, and participants had an opportunity to meet "Gable," a spider monkey, and "Speedy," a lemur.

Smith said participants can also watch the big cats have their breakfast.

"In the morning, we go down and we have meat we toss to the lion, tigers and cougars," she added. "It's really a fun event. It's very cool."

There is also an opportunity to handle some of the center's non-poisonous snakes, said Smith. "Some of the fear of some of the animals is alleviated [that way]," she added.

The camps are educational, said Charlie Hedgecoth, a Noah's Ark staff member and the son of the facility's founder and director. "When people come to the camp, they get to learn first-hand some of the things that are involved in caring for the animals at Noah's Ark," he said. "They get to meet the animals ‘up close and personal,' something that doesn't happen on a regular day trip to Noah's Ark."

The activities help the timid conquer their fear of some reptiles, he said. "We had one lady, who came to the camp with a fear of snakes," continued Hedgecoth. "When we brought out the reptiles, she was able to get close to them, touch them and even held one of them. She learned to overcome that fear."

The camps also teach a respect for animals, he said. "One thing we try to emphasize is that animals are not disposable," added Hedgecoth. "Research an animal before you bring it home for a pet. Make sure it fits your lifestyle. That snake or tortoise is really cool when it's small, but remember what it will grow into before you decide to bring it home."

For more information about the Adventure Safari Camp, call (770) 957-0888.