Lions, Tigers and Bears…Oh, my!

Down a long dirt road, in the middle of nowhere in Melrose, lies an animal lover’s paradise. If you happened to be driving by, you would find a simple wooden fence with a “Tiger Crossing” sign attached and wonder what could possibly be behind those gates. I promise you it’s worth investigating.

Single Vision Wildlife Sanctuary in Melrose, FL

Single Vision, Inc. is a 274-acre wildlife sanctuary specializing in big cat rescue. Single Vision is a safe haven for exotic animals that have fallen victim to illegal trafficking, destruction of habitat or other unfortunate circumstances. Unlike a zoo, the sanctuary opens its gates to the public to interact with some of these incredible species in an effort to educate the public. Single Vision is a 501(c) (3) non-profit organization, so these tours are what keep it and the animals going. Owner and founder, Carl Bovard, relies on the help of dedicated volunteers and donations.

Owner and founder, Carl Bovard

Carl explains the only way to ignite passion in the public to help protect our wildlife is to let them experience it for themselves, and Single Vision does an excellent job. A one-hour interactive tour of the grounds allows you to feed, pet and even hold some of the small exotic species and see the larger species up close and personal, like you never have before, allowing for incredible photo ops.

Animal Tours at Single Vision

This was hands-down the coolest experience both my fiancé, Scott, and I have ever had. Our tour guide, a volunteer named Kristi, started with Florida’s oldest resident, the alligator, that has been known to cause trouble and end up in a swimming pool or two.

We had the opportunity to hold a small gator, followed up with some play time with a swamp wallaby and his roommate, an African spurred tortoise. These two bachelors were quite the life of the party, and the bouncy wallaby took a liking to Scott, following him around and checking his hands for a tasty treat that’s highly coveted around here…grapes.

Next, we had the chance to feed some of the small exotic species, and had a friendly lemur hop onto my shoulder in exchange for one of those prized grapes. At this point in our tour, we hadn’t even seen any big cats yet, but I already knew this was pretty much my favorite place ever.

The second half of our exotic excursion led us to Carl, where we got to experience his passion for the animals first-hand. Think of that person we all know that treats their dog or cat like it’s their baby and the world revolves around this animal, which among my friends and family is usually me. Now imagine someone having that same connection with a 700-pound tiger. It’s pretty incredible to witness, and Carl has this connection with all of his rescued animals. Not only does he respect them, but they respect him just as much for giving them another chance.

The History of Single Vision in Florida

He shares a particularly special bond with one tiger, Bali, for whom the sanctuary is named. Over 13 years ago, an accident left him blind. Carl, who had previous experience working with big cats, regained sight in one eye and was contacted by a tiger conservation breeding program to witness the birth of two tiger cubs born to parents he had worked with. When one of the cubs was born blind in one eye, subsequently unsuitable for further breeding, Carl was approached to adopt both cubs. He quickly built appropriate enclosures and took in the animals, forging a permanent friendship with the cat that started it all.

One of my favorite things about Single Vision is that the majority of the animals socialize and play together on a daily basis, even ones that wouldn’t normally meet in the wild. Even house cats and dogs join the fun. Carl has the help of his right-hand man, a German shepherd named Saber, who’s the head honcho and alpha dog keeping the big cats in check. Make no mistake, Carl understands the serious dangers of working with these exotic creatures. He sees all to often the tragedy of people attempting to keep wild animals as house pets, and has the years of training and experience to work with and save his animals.

Our tour continued to two bears, a goofy brown bear named Bruiser and a sweet, shy black bear named Honey. These bears are living the life with their own swimming pool in Carl’s backyard for daily swim sessions. For an additional fee, you can add interaction with Louis and Rousey, a once-in-a-lifetime experience with a baby lynx (main photo) and serval (story originally published in 2015, animal interactions will vary). Trust me, these cuddly kitties are totally worth the extra money.

Bruiser

Be sure to like Single Vision on Facebook to see Carl’s amazing series of lion and tiger selfies and Bruiser’s bear belly flops into a pool! If you only take one trip in the coming months, make sure it’s to Single Vision, for a day that’s jam packed with incredible experiences.

Single Vision

8185 Forest Hills Rd., Melrose, FL 32666

(904) 377-7993

www.SingleVisionInc.org

FB: @SingleVision // Insta: @SingleVision

Tours and Pricing (per Single Vision’s website):

COVID-19 Schedule as of Monday, May 4th until further notice:

-Tours available on Mondays/Saturdays/Sundays

-We will run two tours per time slot for the Baby Bear Interactions (please only book one for your group); we have two tour guides to keep the tours separate.

-We will have 4 slots open for the General Tour from 1pm-2pm

-No more than 5 people in a group.

-No children under the age of 10 for Baby Bear Interactions

-If you have been around someone with COVID-19 or you have not been practicing social distancing, please do not come visit Single Vision. You will put the operations team and the animals at risk.

-If you are high risk for COVID-19, please wait for a better time to visit Single Vision.  We would not want anyone who visits to get sick.

-We are only offering two tours at this time, the Baby Bear Interaction and the General Tour see details below.

-If you had something booked before and you do not want to do the Baby Bear Interaction that we are offering, you can wait until we open up regular tours again or you can upgrade at the time of your visit to the Baby Bear Interaction.

-Please read everything below IMPORTANT below before your visit.

Baby Bear Interaction – Minimum Donation $100/person:

This includes approximately 30 minutes with Wrigley & Butkus, the baby bears and an abbreviated tour of Single Vision.  Carl or a Single Vision Volunteer will escort you around the grounds and be with you for your interaction with the bears.  You will be taught about the various animals, their endangerment status, how they came to Single Vision, and some fun facts. Interactions are always offered but can be dependent on an animals mood and the behavior of your group. Interacting with every animal will not be possible due to time.

General Tours – Minimum Donation $25/adult and $10/child over the age of 3:

This is approximately a one-hour educational tour.  Carl or a Single Vision Volunteer will escort you around the grounds.  You will be taught about the various animals, their endangerment status, how they came to Single Vision, and some fun facts.  There will be no animal interaction with this tour.

We are not operating on the below schedule right now:

At this time we are scheduling tours on Saturdays and Sundays from 10am-1pm, but if you absolutely can’t do that please call us at 904-377-7993 and we will try to accommodate you. We have kids and adults of all ages visit Single Vision. The tour is about an hour long and full of exotic wildlife education. Depending on the children’s ages, there are some animals that you can feed and interact with. Photos are welcome and encouraged.  See below for your tour options. You can schedule a tour at the bottom of this page!

General Tours – Minimum Donation $25/adult and $10/child over the age of 3:

This is approximately a one-hour educational tour.  Carl or a Single Vision Volunteer will escort you around the grounds.  You will be taught about the various animals, their endangerment status, how they came to Single Vision, and some fun facts.  There will be no animal interaction with this tour.

Group Tours:

If you are a group of 25 or more people we can offer rates of $8 per child and $12 for adults.  This is only for the general tour.  Please call us to schedule large group tours at 904-377-7993.

Incredible Exotic Animal Interactive Tour – Minimum Donation $50/person:

This includes approximately 30 minutes with the ambassadors described below and a 30-minute tour.  Carl or a Single Vision Volunteer will escort you around the grounds.  You will be taught about the various animals, their endangerment status, how they came to Single Vision, and some fun facts.  These depend on availability of new wildlife and will change regularly, along with the pricing.  Interactions are always offered but can be dependent on an animals mood and the behavior of your group.  Please see each description for special pricing.  These tours will include everything in the General Interactive Tour as time allows (interacting with every animal will not be possible due to time.)

This allows you to enter certain enclosures, take photos with, pet and feed any of the following available wildlife: bobcats, caracals, servals, fennec fox, lemurs, kinkajous & coatimundi.

IMPORTANT:

When scheduling your tour you will be required to pay a $50 NON-REFUNDABLE deposit (tours are held rain or shine.)  The remaining donation amounts will be due at the time of your tour.  Please bring payment with you.  After scheduling you will receive a confirmation email from us with tour information and reminders!

If you are having difficulty scheduling online please email us the group size and the type of tour you want at info@singlevisioninc.org and we will get back to you.  Be sure to read the below information as well.

There are no public restrooms on site.  Please stop to use the restroom before you arrive.

Interaction Guidelines:

We are pleased to offer the rare opportunity to interact with some of our incredible animal ambassadors in the hopes that we will generate a passion and interest for the plight of wild animals today.  By being able to meet and interact with these animals we hope you all will leave Single Vision excited about big cats and other endangered species and help spread the word. We provide a lifelong homes for our animals and that requires funding.  We plan to build a very large enclosures at Single Vision and these interactions will assist in the funding of those.  Laws and regulations in the United States are changing and this could be your last opportunity to meet some of our planets most regal and incredible creatures.  We are excited to be able to offer that experience.

General Guidelines

  1. All participants and/or their guardians will be required to sign a liability waiver before interacting with any of the animals.
  2. Listen to the rules told to you upon arrival and follow them when interacting with the animals and touring Single Vision, these are for your safety and the safety of the animals.
  3. Please bring your own cameras as photos are welcome.
  4. For the best experience please wear closed toed shoes and long pants.
  5. The animals are the priority so if your group is causing stress to the animal we will end the session early.
  6. Be on time or you lose tour time, there are many interactions scheduled and if you are late we will not penalize the next group.
  7. We are concerned with the safety of all guests that interact with the animals, as well as the welfare and stress level of the animals.  Please talk to your children about being calm around the animals and let the animals lead the interaction.
  8. Please do not rely on google or GPS systems for directions to Single Vision.  Please use the directions from our website
  9. Tours will require a deposit when you schedule.  This deposit will be NON-REFUNDABLE!  Tours are held rain or shine.  Please dress appropriately.

One thought on “Lions, Tigers and Bears…Oh, my!

Leave a Reply