Dec 14, 2023 - Things to Do

Spend a day with exotic animals at Darby Safari in northwest Charlotte

You can have personal encounters with various exotic animals — including a capuchin monkey, lemurs and baby otters — at a family-owned petting zoo in northwest Charlotte

What’s happening: We recently spent an afternoon learning about animals like kangaroos, camels, and zebras at Darby Acres Farm & Safari. It’s the only exotic petting zoo within city limits. 

Background: Darby Acres is family-owned and operated by the husband and wife duo Dwayne and Jennifer Collins, who have been taking rescue animals in for more than 15 years. Their zoo is named after their daughter, Darby.

  • Over 100 animals, many of whom have been rescued or adopted, live at Darby Safari.
  • Darby Acres Farm provides a separate experience with about 300 farm animals like horses, llamas, goats, pigs and sheep.
  • In total, more than 80 species are located between their safari and farm locations.  

What to expect: There are two tour options that give you the option to walk around and learn about each animal on the property.

  • The one-hour walking tour  allows you to pet about 18 different animals including capybaras, goats, emus, zebras, kangaroos, camels, wallabies, monkeys and porcupines and foxes.
  • In the two-hour “kit & caboodle” tour, you can feed or pet all of the animals on the property.

Personal animal encounters are limited to capuchin monkeys, small clawed Asian otters, North American porcupines, kangaroos, capybaras, lemurs, reptiles, and armadillos.  Encounters last about 10-15-minutes.

Cost: General admission is $20, which comes with one generous bucket of fruits and vegetables to feed the animals.

  • For an additional $24-$45, you can add on a personal encounter with a few of the animals in an up-close private setting. 
  • The kit & caboodle is $100 per person.

Of note: Darby Acres is open year-round but you make an appointment to visit. You can schedule a tour 24 hours in advance online. 

What’s next: They plan to expand their exotic animal family, though Jennifer wouldn’t disclose which species. 


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