From tigers to geckos, tarantulas to porcupines and eagles to owls, the 154th Paris Fair will offer its biggest, most wide-scale wildlife show to date.
Under a 7,200 square-foot pavilion, Wild World Experience showcases wild exotic and endangered animals from around the world.
“It’s going to be unbelievable,” said Paul “Little Ray” Goulet of Little Ray’s Reptile Zoo, who helped organize the show for the fair. “It’s certainly something we haven’t done before. It’s bigger than anything we’ve ever done and it’s going to have the most variety of any other wildlife festival I’ve been to.”
Each of the fair’s four days showcase a new featured animal including an adult tiger, a seven-foot, 150 lb. alligator, American and bald eagles and a bobcat.
The Canadian Raptor Conservancy will provide interactive, educational birds-of-prey exhibits, Jungle Cat World will showcase exotic animals, Little Ray’s Reptile Zoo will present indigenous reptiles and Muskoka Wildlife Centre will offer a selection of animals found across Ontario.
Between 40 and 50 different species of animals will be on display throughout the weekend for families to interact with.
“There is a nice balance of animals that garner a lot of attention and ‘oohs and ahhs,’ combined with animals you can find in your own backyard,” Goulet said. “We want to take the opportunity to teach people about the lesser known animals that live in their communities that are in trouble.”
Live animal shows take place multiple times a day, where audiences can sit down, engage with the animal, learn interesting facts and hear about the challenges the animals face.
Zookeepers will be on hand throughout the day to educate families, answer questions and help get children thinking about endangered animals and what they can do to save them.
“They will be there to engage kids and get them thinking about the bigger problems with animals, but in a positive light,” Goulet said. “With some of the issues that are happening around the world with animals, it’s easy to talk negatively about it. But sometimes we are so negative about it that it seems like the problem is larger than our control.
“Jungle Cat World does a great job at breaking it down into simple things we can do to help protect animals around the world and in Ontario.”
Wild animal displays have often been a feature of the Paris Fair, but for 2012, Paris Fairgrounds general manager Russell Press said he wanted to step it up and offer something bigger and better.
“We’ve always tried to do something that was different,” Press said. “We were the first ones to have a big high dive act and we really wanted to do something that was different, that was educational, that was really family oriented and that people could come to whether or not it was super hot or rainy.
“Every day the animals change so the true animal enthusiasts might have to plan ahead and come to the fair a few extra days to see everything.”
Tickets to the Paris Fair can be purchased at the Paris Fairgrounds, 139 Silver St. in Paris, or by calling 519-442-2823 to find the nearest ticket outlet.