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When you arrive at this 14-hectare nature park, you're greeted with a bewildering range of options – in addition to being a zoo (with big cats, rhinos, giraffes and other African mammals), the beautifully landscaped reserve offers a giant slide, animal interactions, and a variety of heart-pumping activities like ziplining, canyoning and quad-bike 'safaris' around a neighbouring home to zebras, impalas, waterbucks, rhinos and monkeys. Casela is on the main road, 1km south of the turn-off to Flic en Flac.
Children are well catered for with a petting zoo, a playground, giant tortoises, fishing and minigolf. Check out the website for a full list of prices or spend some time at the information desk before the main entrance to get a handle on how to spend your day.
If you simply pay the admission fee, you'll be free to wander the grounds, where you'll see tortoises, a huge range of exotic birds and a few primate species in cages. And make sure you pass by the Mirador restaurant, which has fabulous sweeping views of the coastal plain. Also included in the price is a trip in a safari vehicle, during which you get out and look at lions, cheetahs and hyenas from viewpoints overlooking large, grassy enclosures, and another driving through a much larger area roamed by zebras, ostriches etc.
The park is famous for offering 'interactions' with the big cats – which means you're actually in the enclosure with them, accompanied by a guide armed with nothing more than a large stick – and the hour-long 'walking with lions' experience. We don't recommend either of these two options. These are wild animals, despite having been bred in captivity. Incidents in which visitors have been mauled by big cats in similar places in Africa aren't common, but they do occur; participants here are asked to sign an indemnity form before they draw near to the animals. Questions have also been raised by animal rights groups about the quality of life for big cats in such establishments, as well as about the animals' future when they are too old to take part in activities. Any claims that these captive cats contribute in some way to conservation are incorrect.