Branson Interactive Zoo aka Predator World
Branson West, Missouri
This attraction seemed a natural for us: a zoo that only exhibits animals that kill. Predator World (renamed Branson Interactive Zoo) claims to have over 500 species, and although the brochure emphasizes lions, bears, tigers, mountain lions, and sharks, most of those 500 species appear to be very predatory fish, lizards, snakes, and bugs.
Predator World is new, and its walkways and buildings have an unfinished feel. It sprawls across 11 acres down a hill, partly flattened for parking, with three white "bio-domes" and many fenced enclosures. It reminded us of Ape City.
The interiors of the bio-domes, where the reptiles and fish are kept, are pungent with the smells of predators, their food and spoor. We were told that all of the animals are rescued from failed zoos or private owners, although we didn't luck out and see very many in the outdoor areas: a glimpse of a lion, a shadow of a bear. The gators were torpid in their pools.
It was a hot afternoon, so perhaps the predators were just waiting for a cool part of the day to leap out and eviscerate the tourists.
There is a lot of advance publicity about the freedom to feed the sharks in their 250,000 gallon tank. When you reach the tank -- the last stop on the tour -- you learn that the food costs extra. But it is a tiny thrill to feed sharks, even if you have to do it from the end of a stick.
August 2009: Still calling itself a zoo, which probably attracts more visitors, but also generates more negative feedback than we see with most animal attractions....