Potential Day Camp in Process with Wild Animal Safari

Published 10:00 pm Friday, July 8, 2022

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On Tuesday, the Troup County Board of Commissioners discussed a potential new day camp for children with Wild Animal Safari. Wild Safari Zoo Director Katie Harrison approached the commission regarding approval for a special use application to open a day camp for kids at the park. After approving the prior agendas, the commission opened the floor for public hearings. 

“I’m really passionate about this because before I was the Zoo Director, I was the Education Coordinator along with the Head Keeper. Education about animals and about wildlife conservation is very important to me,” Harrison said. “The coolest thing you can do is get an animal out for a kid and see their eyes light up and see how excited they are. Ever since I started that it been a dream of mine to start a day camp for them”. 

The camp is in talks to be only for a maximum of 20 kids per week, to be held on weekdays from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. for approximately 295 dollars a week. Weekdays at the park are usually slower regarding traffic and parking, Harrison said. Historically, the parks busiest days are on the weekends and holidays, the camp will not be running on those days.  

The main idea behind the camp is to teach kids about different types of animals, how to take care of them, with a special focus on wildlife conservation and recycling.

“We plan to have lessons, crafts, tours and more at this camp,” Harrison said. 

The day camp seeks to have 14 regular spots open with six scholarship spots. The scholarship spots will ideally go to underprivileged kids in the community to allow them to learn about wildlife and get a life-changing experience they otherwise may not have the chance to receive. 

“I think this would be a great asset to the community. Wild Life and environmental conservation is something that is very important to instill in our younger generations,” Harrison said. “Our natural world is in trouble and the best way to protect endangered species and our environment is to bring up a generation that really cares about it”. 

Community Development Director Troy Anderson gave a brief overview of the requirements implementing a day camp at Wild Safari would entail. Roads and engineering recommended due to the increase in traffic, Wild Animal Safari will need to need to install a left and right lane on Oak Grove that will need to be analyzed with a traffic study prior to implementation, he said.  

During the Board of Zoning Appeals and Planning Commission in June, the Commission initially approved the application with the condition that the Wild Animal Safari increases parking by 20% before the opening of the day camp. However, the commission did not seek a motion for the analysis of a traffic study to determine the requirement of the traffic lanes.

In the past to help with traffic issues, Wild Animal Safari put a limit on ticketing which make it where visitors could only come the park at specific times compared to coming whenever they pleased. This change eliminated peak traffic congestion to reasonable manageable flow rates, Anderson said.  

The Development Review Committee staff recommended approval for the allocation of the special use permit with the following conditions. 

  • Must have a proper license for operating a child day camp
  • No amplified music or noise after 10 PM
  • No parking in the right of way on Oak Grove
  • Must comply with fire marshal requirements

Without the implementation of the traffic lanes traffic would pile up not just from the park but from residential traffic too along Oak Road. 

After hearing public hearings for and against the addition of the day camp, the Commission make a motion to table the approval of a special use permit until Wild Animal Safari can work out road details with the county engineer of Pine Mountain.