Push Away the Screen: Hollywild Animal Park

On our recent visit to North Carolina, my family was invited to visit Hollywild Animal Park. Hollywild is just over the state line in South Carolina, so a quick drive from our cottage in Lake Lure, NC. My oldest daughter Haley went to Hollywild with her grandma and great aunts 3 or 4 years ago and loved it! We knew it was a MUST do activity for our annual family vacation. 

While we waited for the park director to meet up with us for our private tour the kids enjoyed looking at the peacocks. 

The director arrived and off we went on our tour!


Hollywild is a non-profit animal park. The Meeks Family have always loved animals. In the 1940's their animal collection contained typical farm animals like goats, cows, chickens, and horses. Their animal farm continued to grow as they added native South Carolina species like squirrels, opossums, foxes, etc... The Meeks youngest son David showed from an early age the ability to handle and understand animals. As the animal collection kept growing and growing, the Meeks family decided that they needed to find a way to share the animals with the public. In 1970, David and his father opened the M & M Zoo where they had deer, swans, monkeys, capybaras, tigers, pheasants, lions, bears, otters, and Donna the Asian elephant. In 1985 David and his wife began building what would become Hollywild Animal Park.

Why Hollywild? Neighbors and family were not the only ones who noticed David’s animal-handling talents; Hollywood also took notice. To date, Meeks has provided animal talent for more than 65 feature films. Hollywild's animals have appeared in numerous national advertising campaigns, photo shoots, brochures, art exhibits, conferences, private parties and nativities. The hand-reared animals and David’s expert handling make them adaptable to many environments, including movie sets. David and his animals have appeared in films from Barbra Streisand’s Prince of Tides, and Tom Cruise’s Days of Thunder. David worked on location in Utah filming Steven King’s The Stand, and on the Christmas movie Prancer.. Pippi’s spotted horse from The New Adventures of Pippi Longstocking and one of the models for Disney’s The Lion King are favorite residents at Hollywild. These projects have provided a solid financial backbone for the park for many years, and led to the renaming of the zoo to Hollywild Animal Park to reflect the Hollywood connection. 


We were able to meet all of the animals. Some were more friendly than others and the friendly animals the trio were allowed to pet and feed.

Ronin LOVED feeding the pigs. 

We toured the entire park and then we were brought the a special behind the scenes area!

The baby nursery area was amazing! The trio had the opportunity to actually get into the nursery area with some of the parks newest additions!

This baby camel and Haley quickly bonded. The camel came right up to Haley and put her head right on Haley's shoulder! It was ADORABLE!!


So many baby animals to dote upon, and the trio could have stayed in this area of the park all day long, but we couldn't! We had a safari to go on!

Guides drive you through 70+ acres filled with herds of free-roaming animals.

It’s great fun to spot the hidden babies in the woods while being surrounded by dozens of animals, many of which will eat right out of your hand. Just watch out for the Emu's!! They are mean and will bite! So keep the food away from them!

Watching the #TampaTrio feed the animals on the safari was the highlight of the experience for me. It was so funny to see these gentle giants and their huge tongues come up to an old bus and eat crackers out of the hands of children. Those tongues Laughing

Hollywild Animal Park is about an hour's drive from Asheville, North Carolina, and surrounding areas, so if you are visiting NC, you should certainly add Hollywild to your MUST DO list!

Have you heard of Hollywild Animal Park??

What I'm Reading Wednesday

Here we are, another Wednesday.

What am I reading this week?

Last week I said I had several books to choose from, but I decided to go with an "older" book. Not a classic, but a book published in 2012. Gone Girl

I read the book in 2012, and while I liked it, I didn't LOVE it. Most of my friends loved it so I seriously wondered if something was wrong with me. 

Then the movie came out in 2014 and I really really liked the movie. It's not like me to like a movie more than a book. In fact, there are really only 2 other books where I thought the movie was better: The Notebook and Jurassic Park. 

Okay, so I decided to give Gone Girl another chance, but this I would do it by audio book.

Gone Girl is narrated by Julia Whelan (Amy) and Kirby Heyborne (Nick), and you can read their thoughts about narrating this book HERE

Okay, so I am LOVING Gone Girl as an audio book. I'm not too keen on Kirby Heyborne as Nick, but I think that might be part of the story. You aren't supposed to like Nick. He's not a good guy. But Julia Whelan does a spot-on job as Amazing Amy. Gone Girl has redeemed itself.

I'm also reading the sequel to the Rosie Project; The Rosie Effect.


It's a cute story. Rosie and Don are married and Rosie is pregnant! I'm only a few chapters in, so I'll be able to discuss more next week, but it's super cute!


Have you ever liked a movie better than the book it was based on??

What I'm Reading Wednesday

Wow, it's Wednesday already. 

So, what have I been reading?

I finished The Goldfinch. I LOVED it. 5 stars. I can totally see why it won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 2014. I loved the character of Boris. Yes, Theo was good too, but there was just something about Boris and I was so glad to see him re-emerge later in the story. It's a long story, 700+ pages, and I broke it up by listening to the audio version in my car and on my walks, and I read the hard copy at night on the couch while my husband watched TV. The Goldfinch has been picked up by Warner Bros for a movie adaptation, and it will certainly be a movie I go and see. 


Also, in less than 48 hours I read and finished The Rosie Project. This was recommended to me by my aunt and I really enjoyed it. It's the story of an autistic genetics professor named Don Tillman (who doesn't realize that he's autistic) and his search for the perfect wife. He meets Rosie, thinking she's applied for the "wife project" and despite her being totally unsuitable, they become friends. It was a fast, lighthearted read, though I do feel that the ending was rushed, and I closed the book feeling disappointed by the ending. But there is a sequel The Rosie Effect so I'm hoping that perhaps it will pick up where the other left off and build upon the rushed ending. I also recently learned that this book is being made into a movie with Jennifer Lawrence cast as Rosie. I think this is a great casting decision. I'm curious who will play Don who is described as being in very good physical shape, and looking like Cary Grant. 


I have quite a few books sitting on my desk, so I'll update you next week with what I decided to pick!

What are you currently reading??