White Oak Conservation Center

White Oak Conservation Center

White Oak Conservation Center
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About
White Oak Conservation Center is one of the world's premiere wildlife breeding, research, and training facilities. The Center, located along the St. Mary's River in northeast Florida, spans 600 acres and is surrounded by 6,800 acres of pine and hardwood forest and wetlands.
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581705 White Oak Rd, Yulee, FL 32097-2169
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  • Vanessa B
    1 contribution
    White Oak Conservation
    White Oak Conservation is a must visit if you, your kids/grand kids love animals and want to see some of the most beautiful animals on this earth!! I saw a segment on River City Live about the Conservation in October 2021 and immediately scheduled a tour for our grandson 7th birthday in November 2021. The cost for the tour was absolutely worth the 2 ½ tour with our tour guide Terry. You can reserve up to 5 persons for the cost of the tour. He was very informative about each animal and took the time to answer all our questions about each animal. My grandson had a blast and he's ready to go again!! He got to feed the giraffes, pet a rhino, and go behind the scenes to see Florida panthers interact playfully with each other. On the tour we were told about the Elephants that have a new home at White Oak and enjoying their new spacious habitat which are not available to tour at this time. We are looking forward to seeing the elephants in the near future!!!
    Visited November 2021
    Written January 2, 2022
  • Jemilla T
    Jacksonville, Florida156 contributions
    Amazing Experience
    This place is absolutely amazing. We did not know about it until hearing a segment on River City Live. So glad we caught that segment. It was not hard to book a tour and so glad that we did. Our tour guide, Terry, was very knowledgeable about the animals and the history of the facility. The work they are doing here is amazing. My son absolutely loved that he was able to pet one of the Rhinos and feed giraffes. This is a great place to visit for those that are animal lovers and even those that are not. The tour was about two hours long and it was filled with information. I loved the layout of the facility. We are looking forward to going back once we are able to visit the elephants. Would love to do an overnight stay here once that is available again. Highly recommend visiting this location, it's well worth your time!!
    Visited November 2021
    Written November 15, 2021
  • Lucinda R
    16 contributions
    An absolute MUST if in Northeast Florida
    I was sharing my passion for wildlife and conservation with someone and they recommended I go to White Oak Wildlife in Yulee, FL. I called and booked the two hour tour and it was truly amazing. The facility is huge and top notch. We drove around the property in an open air vehicle - there was too much to see in the two hours. We each fed the Giraffes with branches full of leaves. All kinds of roaming animals running all around. Rescued Panthers, Cheetas, Rinos......all happily living in a spacious and beautiful environment. The staff is so caring and knowledgeable. We even paid for the lunch with our guide which was delicious and very enjoyable. If you want to see wildlife close up - in as natural a setting as possible - then go!! White Oak is doing all they can to save these animals and it is a pleasure to see.
    Visited February 2020
    Written February 13, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.
Detailed Reviews: Reviews order informed by descriptiveness of user-identified themes such as cleanliness, atmosphere, general tips and location information.
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littlemidg219
San Jose, CA2 contributions
Mar 2022
Tours are $500 for up to 5 people. I'm not sure why you have to call them for that information but it doesn't say how much on website. They stopped giving public tours so if you just want to go yourself or with a friend, you'll just pay a lot more. When I first called them, November of 2020 I completely understood they canceled the public tours because of Covid. I don't know how much longer they had been closed before I called.

But now it's March of 2022 and they still haven't resumed. It's outdoors so, why? The vehicle is open air so again, why?

For reviews Trip Advisor asks "when did you go". I didn't. That's the whole point of this. But it's not a fake review, it's my experience with them.

They were selling tix for $249 during a recent event, a film festival I think, so it's not like they can't resume public tours. It seems they are picking and choosing discriminately to only offer tours to people with a lot of money.

I'm so disappointed in them.
Written March 17, 2022
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

cathyd
Jekyll Island, GA2,133 contributions
Jan 2020 • Couples
Worth every penny to take the ~2 hour tour. Staff is super friendly and informative. Vehicle is a open trolley. Blankets were provided since our tour day was chilly. We only had 12, but normal tour is around 21. Several opportunities to interact with the animals. Hard to imagine that this property is there several miles off I95 then down a dirt road. Special events held throughout year so if local, be sure to sign up for their newsletter.
Written January 29, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

raj0302
Swansboro, NC960 contributions
Mar 2015 • Solo
1. Expectations. As a nature/animal lover, I always enjoy visiting natural history museums, zoos, aquariums, etc, I have had the privilege of visiting similar facilities in Florida. My expectations were very high and I was not disappointed.

2. Recommendations. I would recommend doing some research on the types of animals that are at the facility (see paragraph 9) to get more enjoyment out of the visit.

3. Location/Directions

3a. After booking my tour, I was e-mailed a map to the facility; it was accurate and easy to follow.
3.b. The map took me to the security gate of the facility; the security guard at the gate provided me with a more detailed map to the facility's headquarters (approximately 2 miles from the security gate); it, too, is accurate and easy to follow.

4. Road to the site & parking. The route to the site is off of US Highway 17; the road is a very-well maintained dirt road and is accessible to any type of passenger vehicle. It was dry on the day of my visit but I am confident that any type of vehicle can reach the site even in rainy weather. I was not in an RV or pulling a travel trailer but understand that many visitors are on extended trips/vacations. The road to the site is not recommended for RVs or vehicles pulling trailers; when you book a reservation, the employees can recommend some options.

5. Admission. Admission for the tour is $125; however, I would recommend confirming the current admission fee by checking their website or by calling.

6. Operating hours. The tours are conducted Wed and Fri at 10:00 am. I would recommend verifying this by either checking the museum's website or by calling.

7. Overview of facility. White Oak is a 7,400 acre facility that was purchased by the Gilman family (who were in the paper/pulp business). In the 1980's (I believe), the property was converted to a conference facility and later as a wildlife conservatory. White Oak operates as a conservatory for endangered/threatened species and is a member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. They have a well-respected veterinary staff and are very successful at breeding species and reintroducing them to Africa or supplying animals to respected/credible zoos. The animal enclosures are extremely large (I think all were no less than one acre); some resemble open African Savannah, others have tall forrested overhead cover with little undergrowth; and others have overhead cover with quite a bit of undergrowth.

8. Details of tour. I was greeted (by name) at the security gate and again by the tour guides (by name) when I reached the parking lot. The tour begins with all of the participants (approximately 12 on the day I visited) boarding a trolley. The tour guide drove us to all of the animal enclosures; this portion of the trip took approximately 2 hours. Upon completion of the animal tour, the tour guides provided a tour of the conference facility and there was an option of having lunch at the facility's "Big Game Room". I had another appointment in the afternoon and could not partake of lunch.

9. I have listed the animal exhibits/enclosures below:

9a. Wild Asse. (Yes, I know it is misspelled - Trip Advisor does not permit profanity). Very pretty donkey-like animal native to the Horn of Africa (Somalia, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Eritrea). They have a gray coat with muted Zebra-like stripes on their legs.

9b. Grevy's Zebra. Larger of the Zebra species and native to eastern Africa. They have a nice-size herd (approximately 12 were available for viewing).

9c. Black Rhinoceros. Native to southern and eastern Africa. I believe they had approximately 8 for viewing.

9d. White Rhinoceros. Native to southern and eastern Africa. There were quite a few (12-18).

9e. Indian Rhinoceros. Native to northeastern India. I believe they had one large male, a large female and a young male.

9f. Cape Buffalo. Large, heavy-bodied buffalo native to southern, central and western Africa. On the day that I visited, the buffalo was too far away to be seen very well. This was the only disappointment of the visit - it would have been great to have seen them up close.

9g. Okapi. Medium-size animal closely-related to the Giraffe; native to central Africa. This is a beautiful animal with a black/brown coat and zebra-like stripes on the legs.

9h. Reticulated Giraffe. Native to scattered pockets in southern and central Africa. They have 6-8 of them; the tour affords visitors the ability to feed them.

9i. Gerenuk. Small, thin gazelle native to the horn of Africa (Somalia, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Eritrea). This is an attractive little animal that is almost cartoon-like.

9j. Dama Gazelle. Small gazelle native to Northern Africa whose coat changes from white to brown with the seasons.

9k. Nile Lechwe. Small antelope native to central and eastern Africa.

9l. Lesser Kudu. Medium-size antelope native to central and eastern Africa.

9m. Roan Antelope. Heavy-bodied, medium-size antelope native to Southern Africa.

9n. Bongo. Large antelope native to central Africa. This animal has a very striking red/brown coat with vertical red stripes.

9o. Giant Eland. Very large antelope native to central and western Africa.

9p. Cheetah. Native to southern and central Africa. They have one in a large enclosure with an Anatolian Shepherd Dog (very interesting story as told by the caretakers). In another enclosure, they have a couple of females who have recently given birth; I believe there are 6 cubs.

9q. Cassowary. Large, flightless bird native to New Guinea and Australia. There was a male and female available for viewing. This bird is smaller than an Ostrich (comparable in size to an Emu) and resembles the Velociraptors from Jurassic Park. They have a very unique quality in that they emit a rumbling/resonating sound similar to an Alligator or Lion.

10. Length of visit. The wildlife tour lasts approximately 2 hours.

11. Handicap access. I am not handicapped but understand that this can affect someone's decision whether or not to visit a site/attraction. Visitors who are wheelchair-bound or have difficulty walking should be able to enjoy the facility with little to no difficulty. The trolley used for the tour requires visitors to climb aboard the trolley via three steps. There are approximately four opportunities to disembark the trolley and approach the animal enclosures; the terrain is uniformly flat and level.

12. Child friendliness. The facility is child friendly. However, I would recommend that parents consider the fact that children may be too frightened to approach some of the animals.

13, Amenities/creature comforts. There are restrooms and bottled water available at the "Big Game Room" prior to the tour. Lunch is available (if desired) upon completion of the tour.

14. Gift shop. There is a small gift shop at the facility; it has a nice selection of items oriented primarily towards adults: souvenirs, coffee mugs, t-shirts, ball caps.

15a. Other attractions nearby - #1. Carson Springs Wildlife Conservation Foundation is located in Gainesville, FL (100 mi / 1 hr 45 min to the south/southwest) and is extremely nice. If I remember correctly, this facility is operated partially as a rescue facility. They offer a walking tour that lasts approximately 1 1/2 hours. During my visit there March 2014, they had: Cheetahs, Eurasian Lynx, Leopard, Lions, Tigers, Hyenas, Giraffe, Oryx, Lemur. The tour guide was very cordial, knowledgeable and personable. I recommend checking their website and/or Trip Advisor page for more details.

15b. Other attractions nearby - #2. St Augustine Wild Reserve is located in St Augustine, FL 65 mi / 1 hr 15 min to the south/southeast) and is very enjoyable. This facility is operated as a rescue facility that is awarded custody of animals that have been confiscated by Florida Department of Fish and Wildlife. They offer a walking tour that lasts approximately 1 1/2 hours. During my visit there March 2014, they had: Cougars, Leopards, Lions, Tigers, Wolves and a variety of birds and small primates. It was evident that all of the employees care a great deal of the animals. I recommend checking their website and/or Trip Advisor page for more details.

15c. Other similar attractions nearby #3. Catty Shack is located in Jacksonville, FL (50 miles / 1 hr to the south). I have not visited this facility and cannot provide a first-hand observation.

15d. Other similar attractions nearby #4. Big Cat Rescue is located in Tampa, FL (235 mi / 4 hr to the southwest). I have not visited this facility and cannot provide a first-hand observation.

15e. Other similar attractions nearby #5. Bee Creek Feline Center is located in Panama City, FL (275 mi / 4 hr 30 min to the west). I have not visited this facility and cannot provide a first-hand observation.

15f. Other similar attractions nearby #6. Panther Ridge Conservation Center 285 mi / 4 hr 30 min to the south). I have not visited this facility and cannot provide a first-hand observation; however, they are next on my list of sites to visit. Among the other felines, they have two Jaguars and I would very much like to see them.

16. Conclusion. If the animals and facilities were not enough, the staff is very courteous, professional and accommodating.
Written March 11, 2015
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

roseeeg
Hobe Sound Florida26 contributions
Mar 2013 • Family
Our family, ages 6 to 75, stayed for two nights at the Tree House. Cannot give it high enough ratings, from the lodging to meals, educational tours to keeper for a day, welcoming staff to stunning surroundings...this place has it all. Two of our group did the keeper for a day and said it was an experience of a lifetime. Everyone at White Oaks is knowledgeable about the history of the buildings as well as the breeding of the animals....you can tell right away that they love what they do and want you to love it too. The six year old wants her next birthday to be there and the 17 year old has decided it would be perfect for a wedding someday.
Written March 31, 2013
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Sharon R
Monroe, GA91 contributions
Aug 2018 • Family
My nine year old granddaughter and I visited White Oak Conservation Center while on a mini vacation in Jacksonville, Florida. Our guide was an expert on the center's history, purpose, and wildlife there. We rode in an open air vehicle with room for about 20 people. The tour lasted about two hours. We were able to get out at the rhino feeding area for pictures and to touch the rhinos. We also were able to feed a giraffe and had a photo op at the large cheetah area where fortunately the cheetah was right next to the fence where we stopped.The zebras were too far away for quality viewing or picture taking.

The gift shop was small but nice. The staff was very nice and professional. They greet you and make sure you don't wander off into unsupervised areas.

Lunch is offered at an extra price.

I applaud the conservation efforts of the center. From the info our guide gave us they are thoroughly involved in the cultivation and preservation of the endangered species the center deals with. It seems to me that the tours are a side venture to help support the conservation efforts and that is OK with me.

However, the cost of the tour, $100 per adult and $50 per child is way too expensive. We certainly did not get a $ 100 tour. The number of animal sightings is limited. If you wish to make a substantial contribution to their conservation efforts and see relatively few animals then you might consider a visit. I did not get a $100 value and my granddaughter got a little bored between animal sightings on the tour.
Written August 14, 2018
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

srjh
Ft. Lauderdale, Florida199 contributions
Dec 2012 • Family
At first I thought it was a little expensive but after out visit I concluded it was well worth it. A very interesting, unusual, and fun experience. We got to see the baby cheetahs, and feeding the giraffe was wild - it almost lifted me up off the ground. It was a little cold during our visit, so many of the animals were in shelters for their safety, but our guide made sure we got to see almost the entire range of animals on the sprawling grounds. Alllow 15 minutes to get to the tour spot from the highway - it's in a beautiful, secluded area right on the St. Mary's river. Old Florida at its finest!
Written December 28, 2012
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Pacorulz
St. Augustine, FL105 contributions
Nov 2014 • Couples
I've seen and heard about White Oak for years but never could quite make schedules work for a visit until last weekend. This place is amazing. It's 7500 acres in the middle of nowhere but once you get there you'll find a real treasure. The facilities are first class and we had a great dinner and cocktail hour at the end of our event but the real stars are the animals.

In addition to seeing White Rhinos up close (literally 2 feet away) and hundreds of other animals, the real highlight of our trip was a Cheetah Run. If you have never seen a Cheetah running at full speed over a hundred yards or so, you can't imagine how fast and agile these magnificent animals are.

White Oak has corporate programs and individual events but the key is to plan ahead. I've heard that openings fill up fast. These folks are in the business of animal conversation so they don't have a constant stream of people flowing through and there's no general admission. That just means you have to plan and contact them in advance.
Written November 18, 2014
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Sandra S
Jacksonville, FL10 contributions
Sep 2014 • Couples
We recently took our third tour at the White Oak Conservation Center. The staff does a great job of making everyone welcome and giving as much information about the center as possible. The Safari tour takes guests on a trolley throughout the facility and a expert guide is along to give information on the many endangered animals they are caring for. Much is being done with breeding. The cheetahs and rhinos are wonderful to see. There is a wonderful meal served following the tour. This is an outstanding place to visit for anyone concerned with wildlife on our planet. The nighttime tours are for adults, but there are other events that children would enjoy. It's a great place to visit for a day or to stay overnight in one of the cabins.
Written October 7, 2014
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Glindah
Los Angeles71 contributions
Oct 2013 • Friends
I learned about White Oak quite by accident 3 days before a business trip to Jacksonville and I was pinching myself at that random stroke of luck the whole time I was there. Visiting White Oak, experiencing the amazing hospitality of the staff and seeing the incredible work they are doing with endangered species was nothing short of incredible. There are many rare animals at White Oak that you would probably never see on safari in Africa. If you find yourself in Jacksonville or anywhere in that neck of the woods, I would highly encourage you to visit this beautiful facility and experience all it has to offer.
Written October 27, 2013
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

joanelle m
Jacksonville, FL48 contributions
Nov 2012
This is a gem in America. Presidents go here. The rare and endangered animals are second to none on the planet and the care of the conservation area is known throughout the world. This is a place of peace on the St. Mary's River, the former home of Howard Gilman, and a place of respite - the hard work is making sure endangered species are kept alive for our children and grandchildren. Not to be missed - private - take a group, pay for it, and go - it is the experience of a lifetime.
Written February 24, 2013
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

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