If you (or your child) love animals, you owe it to yourself to visit Dade City’s Wild Things (DCWT), the 22-acre zoo located just 30 minutes or so from most of New Tampa, near the Pasco Hernando Community College campus in the heart of Dade City.

As a proud member and supporter of the Greater Wesley Chapel Chamber of Commerce (in addition, of course, to the New Tampa Chamber), I was thrilled to be one of fewer than 200 people who got to attend the Chamber’s “Member Appreciation Night” at DCWT. We also were treated to free raffle prizes, a sumptuous buffet meal provided by my friend Ghada Jadallah of A Dash of Salt & Pepper (located on Cross Creek Blvd. in New Tampa) and a modified walking tour of the monkeys, bison, ostriches, macaws, bears and especially the animals that so captivated me as a youngster — plenty of big cats!

DCWT has more than 200 species of animals, but I especially loved the zoo’s full-grown lions, tigers (including white tigers) and Florida panthers, as well as the 10-month-old lion “cub” named “Leonardo, King of Beasts,” and four amazingly cute two-month-old tiger cubs. The cubs get so close to you during DCWT’s awesome animal show — which we also got to enjoy — that you’re practically holding the cute critters in your lap.

It was an amazing evening and well worth the trip!

Dade City’s Wild Things offers guided tours and hands-on opportunities Tuesday-Saturday, 9 a.m.-5 p.m. (and some Sundays). For more info, call (352) 567-WILD or visit DadeCitysWildThings.com. — GN

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