Push Away the Screen: Hollywild Animal Park

On our recent visit to North Carolina, my family was invited to visit Hollywild Animal Park. Hollywild is just over the state line in South Carolina, so a quick drive from our cottage in Lake Lure, NC. My oldest daughter Haley went to Hollywild with her grandma and great aunts 3 or 4 years ago and loved it! We knew it was a MUST do activity for our annual family vacation. 

While we waited for the park director to meet up with us for our private tour the kids enjoyed looking at the peacocks. 

The director arrived and off we went on our tour!


Hollywild is a non-profit animal park. The Meeks Family have always loved animals. In the 1940's their animal collection contained typical farm animals like goats, cows, chickens, and horses. Their animal farm continued to grow as they added native South Carolina species like squirrels, opossums, foxes, etc... The Meeks youngest son David showed from an early age the ability to handle and understand animals. As the animal collection kept growing and growing, the Meeks family decided that they needed to find a way to share the animals with the public. In 1970, David and his father opened the M & M Zoo where they had deer, swans, monkeys, capybaras, tigers, pheasants, lions, bears, otters, and Donna the Asian elephant. In 1985 David and his wife began building what would become Hollywild Animal Park.

Why Hollywild? Neighbors and family were not the only ones who noticed David’s animal-handling talents; Hollywood also took notice. To date, Meeks has provided animal talent for more than 65 feature films. Hollywild's animals have appeared in numerous national advertising campaigns, photo shoots, brochures, art exhibits, conferences, private parties and nativities. The hand-reared animals and David’s expert handling make them adaptable to many environments, including movie sets. David and his animals have appeared in films from Barbra Streisand’s Prince of Tides, and Tom Cruise’s Days of Thunder. David worked on location in Utah filming Steven King’s The Stand, and on the Christmas movie Prancer.. Pippi’s spotted horse from The New Adventures of Pippi Longstocking and one of the models for Disney’s The Lion King are favorite residents at Hollywild. These projects have provided a solid financial backbone for the park for many years, and led to the renaming of the zoo to Hollywild Animal Park to reflect the Hollywood connection. 


We were able to meet all of the animals. Some were more friendly than others and the friendly animals the trio were allowed to pet and feed.

Ronin LOVED feeding the pigs. 

We toured the entire park and then we were brought the a special behind the scenes area!

The baby nursery area was amazing! The trio had the opportunity to actually get into the nursery area with some of the parks newest additions!

This baby camel and Haley quickly bonded. The camel came right up to Haley and put her head right on Haley's shoulder! It was ADORABLE!!


So many baby animals to dote upon, and the trio could have stayed in this area of the park all day long, but we couldn't! We had a safari to go on!

Guides drive you through 70+ acres filled with herds of free-roaming animals.

It’s great fun to spot the hidden babies in the woods while being surrounded by dozens of animals, many of which will eat right out of your hand. Just watch out for the Emu's!! They are mean and will bite! So keep the food away from them!

Watching the #TampaTrio feed the animals on the safari was the highlight of the experience for me. It was so funny to see these gentle giants and their huge tongues come up to an old bus and eat crackers out of the hands of children. Those tongues Laughing

Hollywild Animal Park is about an hour's drive from Asheville, North Carolina, and surrounding areas, so if you are visiting NC, you should certainly add Hollywild to your MUST DO list!

Have you heard of Hollywild Animal Park??

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  • I enjoyed HollyWild, watch out for biting Zebras though.

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