41 GASPARILLA MAGAZINE SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2016 Lions, Tigers and Bears: Just eight miles north of Arcadia is a 40-acre piece of property owned by Lynn and Dennis Wittmeier. On the property they house more than 150 animals, approximately 50 of which are wild animals who were once pets, part of a circus or sideshow, or in the business of human entertainment in general. Many bobcats, panthers, tigers, a few lions and a black bear are the larger animals you will see there, with a lemur, a couple of gibbons, a huge snake and a few birds thrown in for good measure. If Lynn is your tour guide, you will be treated to stops at most of the cages and will have the chance to ask questions and observe the animals in large, comfortable cages. One tiger in particular named Cassie will all but beg for pets through the cage ... but it is not encouraged nor allowed by Lynn. Lions, Tigers & Bears is a 501(c)3 refuge for these animals, and donations are always accepted. The price of admission varies, so call first before you go. They are normally open to the public Thursdays through Sundays with guided tours between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. by appointment only. They are closed during the months of July and August. Getting there is a bit of an enigma the first time you go. Turn left at the stockyards (you can’t miss them off Hwy. 17), then follow the road back ... back ... back ... until you’re on a one-way farm road. Just keep following the signs and you’ll be fine, and keep their phone number in your phone in case you have any issues. If you pull up into what appears to be someone’s front yard and many cats greet you, you’re in the right place. Lions, Tigers & Bears 9801 NE Bahia Ct. Arcadia, Fl. 34265 (863) 494-0054 Daily hours of operation are Thursday through Sunday. Tours by appointment only from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m., so always call in advance. Closed July and August Prices of admission vary, always call first. More information is available at lionstigersandbears.us.com CAUTION: Wear long pants, sturdy walking shoes and socks. Bring bug spray and drinking water.
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