Hovatter's Wildlife Zoo has been a popular place for animal lovers for many years, but recently, it has decided to give customers the opportunity of a lifetime: a chance to embrace, play, and cuddle with the newest additions at the zoo.
The zoo is offering animal encounters so adoring fans can meet baby animals when they are just a few weeks old.
"My first year of actually being introduced to having an animal, we had a baby baboon named Piper, and after that, I was like, 'You know, we should let people see Piper.' So we start it, we put it on Facebook," said Amy Grimm of Hovatter's.
And "animal encounters" were born. Customers were soon lining up to meet the baby giraffe, camel, baboon, wallabies, and now, the newest addition: lion cubs.
"They'll get to sit down with them, let them crawl on them, pet them, pick them up...more one-on-one time, where it's not just a picture and you put the animal down. You get to pet, and hold, and cuddle, and love on them! Like everyone wants to do with animals," said Grimm.
Grimm, who arranges the encounters, said the animals are ready to meet the public when they are just a few weeks old. She schedules visits by appointment only, so the cubs can still get the rest they need.
"We just do it as long as we know that the animal is still able to be with different people, of course, and we're with them," said Grimm.
Debbie Pauley drove three-and-a-half hours from Hurricane to meet the cubs. Pauley said sharing the experience with her family was an incredible opportunity.
"It was absolutely worth every penny because it's something I've wanted to do probably my entire life," said Pauley. "Since they're so young, they want to sleep a lot."
Hovatter's hopes to soon build a nursery to accommodate the "baby fever."
"That's why we have babies throughout the year. We'll have more lions, tigers, bears, monkeys," said Grimm.
The lion cubs are only available until December, but Grimm said more baby animals will be coming to the zoo soon.
The encounters are currently priced at $200 for a 30-minute session.
If you'd like to schedule an animal encounter, you can contact Grimm via Hovatter's Facebook page or email email@example.com