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New Zealand wildlife park offers unique lion encounter

Friday, August 30, 2013
Wildlife park in New Zealand visitors get up close and personal with lions

A unique wild animal park in New Zealand is enjoying a rebirth thanks to some worldwide attention generated by social media.

International media outlets are swarming over Orana Park in Christchurch after a tourist posted photos on Facebook.

Unlike other wildlife parks, Orana packs visitors into specially designed vehicles for a very up close and personal encounter with hungry lions. While in the mobile feeding enclosure, visitors are separated from the animals by about 10 millimeters of steel.

"We're just blown away that we've been doing it since 1999 and all of a sudden there's a huge interest in it which is great," Orana Wildlife Park spokesperson Nathan Hawke said.

While cage encounters began in 1999, the up-close experience goes back to the park's opening in 1976, when it was quite literally a drive thru.

Local officials love all the attention. It's providing a tourism boost for a city recovering from a devastating earthquake back in 2011.

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