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Wildlife, fish, flora and fauna offer new adventure

By: By Bill Charles

Date Posted: 2012-04-13

Alone, with friends or with family, it’s time to venture out and explore a spot in Okinawa that offers tastes of the Amazon, Africa, Oceania and Asia, and with plenty of photo opportunities to capture the adventure.

It’s time to visit one of Okinawa’s lesser known, but terrific parks, with enjoy variety to suit everyone from 2 ~ 102! We’re at Nature’s Environmental Oasis Park Okinawa, more commonly called NEO Park by the locals, on the edge of Nago City. Spread across 251,490 square meters of land, NEO Park has dozens of exotic animals, more than 873 species of birds, 500 species of ferns, and more than 3,600 species and varieties of plants and cacti.

A day at NEO Park transports a visitor to the Amazon jungle, the African savannah, way down to Oceania, and up across Asia. It’s all possible because of Okinawa’s mostly tropical environment, which allows the park to feature natural habitats ranging from tropical to subtropical regions. NEO Park has divided itself into sections featuring specific habitats that permit animals to roam freely across the grounds, much as they would in their native lands. Even more, there are a number of smaller sub-habitats and cages occupied by amazing animals.

It’s more than a one-way street, as visitors can feed many of the occupants. For example, Lemur Island is a locale where bananas and raisins can be purchased to feed lemurs. There’s even a Tortoise farm structured as a petting zoo safe for children to mix and mingle with the animals. Get those cameras ready, and be sure to have a totally full battery, because there are endless opportunities for photos of Amazon jungle, Cove of Madagascar, African Savanna, Oceanic flora and fauna, Hornbill forest, Llama hill, Cactus pass, Flamingo lake, Spider Monkey island, Lemur islands, Giant tortoise farm, Yanbaru rescue center, and petting zoo.

And wait…there’s more: you'll see a great variety of plants and animals such as flamingos, goats, a horse, rabbits, sheep, a few different kinds of monkeys, lemurs, storks, a few caged toucans, Amazon river fish, wild boars, kangaroos, giant tortoises, and ostriches. Although the park has a special area designated as a petting zoo, the whole park can be considered a petting zoo since most of the animals wander around freely and will even eat out of your hand. As we said, there are also a few places at the park where you can buy special bags of food to feed the animals. Hand-feeding the animals is a lot of fun, so don't be shy! If you get pecked once or twice on accident, it doesn't hurt.

In the giant tortoise farm, you can feed, touch, and even sit on several huge tortoises. The park's website shows that the tortoises are about 120 cm in diameter and weigh up to 150 kg. Most of the park's tortoises are somewhere around 40 ~ 50 years old, but these tortoises can live up to 200 years! Admission to this area costs ¥300 per person or you can buy a special admission package at the front gate for entrance into the park and the tortoise farm for ¥800 for adults, ¥500 for middle and high school students, and ¥400 for children ages 4~12.

The park is open from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. every day, but you have to enter the park by 5 p.m. From July 21 to August 31 Neo Park is open from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. but you have to enter the park by 6:30 p.m. Admission to Neo Park is ¥630 for adults, ¥315 for middle school and high school students, and ¥210 for children ages 4 ~ 12. If you come with a group of 15 or more people, a 10% discount will be given.

Driving to Neo Park is very easy. Drive north on Highway 58 until you reach Nago City. Keep going straight until you see the Nago Jusco shopping complex on your left. Drive straight past Jusco and almost immediately, the entrance for Neo Park will be on your left. For more information, check out Neo Park's website at www.yanbaru.ne.jp/~neopark., or call the

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