Skip to main content

One wild business: Safari Country opens in Baldwin 

Drive-thru animal experience opened to the public earlier this month

share arrow printer bookmark flag

June 24, 2024

BALDWIN – It’s been a wild ride for a new business in the Village of Baldwin.

Owner Diana Rickard said Safari Country – which opened to the public June 12 – provides patrons with an educational and entertaining experience as they interact with animals from the comfort of their vehicle.

The start of an adventure 

Located at 2460 90th Ave., Rickard said Safari Country is home to more than 100 animals spread across approximately 10 acres in St. Croix County. 

She said Safari Country combines her passion for animals and business – though the planning process was quite an adventure.

“The beginning of Safari Country is not short, but it’s a story that began with myself and my family,” she said.

Rickard said she was born into a dairy farm family and spent much of her childhood around animals – even traveling with her family’s business – Fantasy Corral, a traveling animal experience focused on educating others about farm animals.

When the COVID-19 pandemic shut down nearly everything, Rickard said many hands-on activities were canceled.

This, she said, sparked an idea.

“One of our missions in our company is to educate individuals about different species of animals,” she said. “To contribute to this mission, we began exposing our animals with the (concept) of a drive-thru park, now known as Safari Country.”

Though she had years of experience with animals, getting her dream from paper to reality, Rickard said, took determination, organization and patience. 

“Opening a business is a long process,” she said. “It takes countless hours, paperwork, meetings and community communication.”

Preparing to open, Rickard said, involved obtaining necessary permits, as well as state and township approvals.

However, the biggest challenge along the way, she said, was Mother Nature – which impacted some of the construction schedules.

“(It’s been hard) dealing with the weather and all the rain we’ve been getting,” she said. “Getting the business running and continuing to run the business involves working 12-plus-hour days, seven days a week.”

Rickard said a typical day for her includes paperwork, meetings, daily property rounds, cleaning, countless hours of caring for the animals to ensure their health and well-being and educating the public.

“All of this led us to getting Safari Country open for the community,” she said.

An experience like no other

At Safari Country, Rickard said visitors can see up to 30 different species with an open-concept scenario.

“You have roads to drive on as you enter the animals’ habitats, and the animals will be seen naturally roaming throughout our fields,” she said. “To make our park feel more at home for our animals, we are tucked back into a large area of fields in the country.”

Some of the animals on the property include miniature donkeys, red kangaroos, sulcata tortoises, emus, Nilgai antelopes, water buffalo, scimitar-horned oryxes, peacocks and ring-tailed lemurs.

The park, Rickard said, also has several fainting goats, a breed known for its trait called myotonia, which causes temporary stiffness and falls. 

Owner Diana Rickard said Safari Country spans approximately 10 acres and is home to more than 100 animals, including miniature donkeys. Submitted Photo

She said Safari Country also has animals you wouldn’t find in a typical backyard, such as dromedary camels (who have a single hump and wooly coat) or African watusi, which originate from eastern Africa.

Rickard said they are known for their massive horns and can weigh up to 1,600 pounds. 

“Animals are curious creatures and may come up for a closer look to see what you are up to,” she said.

The animals at Safari Country, Rickard said, have balanced diets, but visitors can purchase special feed on-site to share.

“You can reach out and touch them as they eat from your cup,” she said. “Several of our animals you may touch could have fur, hair, wool or feathers.”

Though visitors can explore the open area from within their vehicles, Rickard said the experience doesn’t end there.

“Another portion of our park is a designated area where you can park your vehicle to get out, stretch and approach some of our smaller animals by foot,” she said.

Rickard said all the animals found at Safari Country were born on the farm and raised personally by her and park caretakers. 

“Throughout the years, we create special bonds with our animals,” she said. “We are more than just companions – we call them family.”

In addition to the animals she has raised over the years, Rickard said she has taken in many animals from those who could no longer care for them.

“With the various animals and raising them all, it is always hard to choose one animal as a favorite,” she said.

The gate is open

With Safari Country officially open, Rickard said she is especially excited to welcome visitors this summer. 

“We are continuing to add little details throughout the park to make everyone’s experience special and memorable,” she said.

Throughout the season, Rickard said there will be many opportunities for visitors of all ages to learn about the amazing animals at Safari Country.

Diana Rickard said Safari Country provides patrons with up-close views of animals from the comfort of their vehicle. Submitted Photo

“Our animal curator will be showing these animals in our animal walk area while giving information about that specific animal,” she said. “This will give our guests something new and exciting to learn about along with some up-close-and-personal interactions with these animals.”

Rickard said the park will also host special events throughout the season – visitors can find out more information on Safari Country’s Facebook page.

“We will post ahead of time about special animal guests that may be appearing for one day only or they may make special appearances multiple times throughout our season as well,” she said.

Admission to the park for adults (13 and older) is $13, children (4-12) are $8 and toddlers under 3 are free.

Seniors (65 and older) can receive a discounted rate of $10 on Wednesdays and Thursdays.

“We allow groups to come through the park, such as nursing homes, daycares and school groups,” she said. “If available, we accommodate these groups with a free tour guide to join them on their vans or buses to learn more about the animals.”

From feeding the animals to seeing them at play, Rickard said the park promises a memorable and educational day for all visitors. 

“We invite you to join all of us here at Safari Country – we are an adventure waiting to happen,” she said. “We hope to make it a great animal experience for you at Safari Country.”

Safari Country is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday until Labor Day.

For more information, visit

share arrow printer bookmark flag

Trending View All Trending