Jungle creatures invade Ahoskie

Published 8:23 am Thursday, June 24, 2010

AHOSKIE – It’s not every day that a SUV shares a parking lot with a camel…or a tiger…or a lion.

Then again, it’s not every day that exotic animals call Ahoskie as home, if only for a brief period of time.

Robert and Patricia (“Pat”) Engesser have pitched a giant red-and-white tent in the parking lot of the Ahoskie Commons Shopping Center and invited the public to tour their Jungle Safari.

Scheduled for a five-day (Wednesday through Sunday) appearance in Ahoskie are an assortment of unique animals, including “Adair”, a 10-year-old camel, and “Sierra”, a two-month-old white Bengal tiger.

For those seeking a keepsake photo with these animals, Jungle Safari officials will capture that moment for a nominal fee.

Also on public display are pigmy goats, llamas and monkeys as well as pony rides.

Admission is free. Show hours are 10 a.m. until 9 p.m. (Thursday, Friday and Saturday) and 11 a.m. – 5 p.m. on Sunday.

The highlight each evening (7 p.m.) is watching the handlers feed the “big cats” (a lion and tiger). Also worth a look-see is Mr. Engesser taking “Adair” out for a walk. Plenty of photo opportunities will be available this weekend when that occurs.

According to Jungle Safari employee Tonya Knight, the business has been in the Engesser family for generations.

“Mr. Engesser’s great-great-grandfather went to Africa and purchased a lion and that’s what started it all,” she said.

Knight said the Safari is out on the road four-to-six weeks at a time.

“This is our last stop on our current tour,” Knight said. “From here, we go back home (a 27-acre farm in Trenton, Florida) to rest up and then it’s back out on the road, this time in West Virginia.”