By Hunter Franklin ‘19
People often regret their actions after the fact.
I quickly regretted my decision before the fact as I climbed the 119 steps up the 80-foot wooden tower to the first zip line platform.
The farther I climbed with our two guides and 10 other participants, the more nervous I got.
My family and I were about to brave the Predator Zip Line Adventure at Out of Africa Zoo, about a 1.5 hour drive up the I-17 to Camp Verde.
While the Predator Zip Line is located on the Out of Africa Zoo premises, they each require separate tickets to enter.
Gear wise, we had zip line harnesses and safety helmets. There were straps around our shoulders, legs and waist.
Ropes and straps with carabiners were hanging all around my body. My irrational thought process had me asking the question, ”Is all this stuff really gonna work and keep me falling into the mouth of a tiger or lion below?”
You see, the Predator Zip Line gives you a bird’s eye view of the Out of Africa Zoo. Even the advertising claims: “Soar over Lions, Tigers, Wolves, Hyenas, Bears, Jaguars and other natural predators!”
My imagination was running wild and the guides didn’t help by joking that our helmets weren’t there to break our fall.
I showed up with my Go-Pro camera strapped to my head.
They gave us an orientation and mentioned that should our cell phones or cameras fall and an animal eats them, we would be sent the vet bill, which I imagine would be something like a year’s tuition at Brophy (or more). We made sure my Go-Pro was strapped super tight.
On the first platform, most of our 10-person group looked nervous.
The guides explained a bunch of stuff, but I was only half-listening.
I was trying to find my happy place and psych myself up to zipline down from this 80-foot tower to the next.
One by one, our group members got hooked up to the zipline, then jumped off, whizzing towards the next platform where another guide was waiting to catch them. As it got closer to be my turn, the farther away I crept away from the edge of the platform.
Unfortunately, with everyone gone, I was a bit conspicuous, so I was hooked onto the line and the guide gave me the “now or never” heaving push and I went flying off the platform. Screaming. Eyes closed.
There are seven platforms in all, each with varying heights in elevation and different lengths in physical ziplines.
With each zip line I made it through, I gained confidence and had my eyes open for longer durations.
By the time I made it to the third platform, my fear had vanished and had been replaced with adrenaline and excitement.
I was finally able to notice the awe inspiring views of the wildlife parks; a rhino by the pond, tigers pacing around the perimeter of their huge enclosure, lion’s den, giraffes and zebras in the Savannah and bear cubs being fed by zookeepers.
It was all pretty amazing.
The last two ziplines, I got very close to the ground. I flew over a rhinoceros in one and nearly brushed a tree with my feet in another while my friend’s foot nearly missed a giraffe’s head, or so it seemed.
The last platform had multiple ziplines, allowing groups of three to race one another to the finish.
My parents and I raced one another as we zipped over the giraffes and zebras in the Savannah.
My father, weighing a little more than the rest of us, won.
There are other ziplines in Arizona, but this one is unique for sure. Dare devils, zoo fans and animal lovers will enjoy Out Of Africa. From the heights of the zipline course , far above the terrain below, it is the best place to see all the zoo animals.
The cost of the Predator Zip Line is $89/sp for a roughly two hour experience.
But, they also give you a lifetime twenty percent off every time you return for you and your guests.
If you are trying this for the first time, check Groupon for discounts. For more information visit: http://outofafricapark.com/encounters/zip-line/.