ARTHUR, Ill. (WCIA) — Have you ever had a dream come true? Did it happen to be about buying a zoo? For one man in Our town, it was the case.
He had a dream to run a wildlife adventure park. He didn’t ignore the idea. Instead, he made it a reality.
Aikman Wildlife Adventure is different than other zoos. It has a drive-through area where animals come right up to the car. It’s like taking a trip across the world to see dozens of species.
“I love it. I’m working outdoors so it’s definitely a different environment than sitting in an office, but I get to work with all kinds of amazing animals.”
James Aikman spent ten years as a banker, then decided it was time for a change. It all stemmed from a dream he couldn’t get out of his head.
“That night, I had the exact same dream. I told her about it and said, ‘I don’t know why, but I feel like this is something God’s wanting us to do.’ She said, ‘If God’s behind it, he’ll find a way to make it happen.’ A little under two years after the dreams was when we bought this place.”
The former Rockome Gardens turned into Aikman Wildlife Adventure.
“We’ve got two aspects of our park. We’ve got our drive-through where people can drive their own vehicles through. They can see animals that they would think they’d be in Africa.”
Depending on your comfort zone, they get up close and personal to greet you. They also have enclosures on the other side as well.
“It’s set up more like a traditional zoo where each animal is in their own habitat; just a big habitat.”
From zebras to emus, the park offers a wide variety of animals to see. It’s attracting people from across the world.
“Zebras, wildebeests. We have bison, we have water buffalo. We have about 100 animals out there, native to six different continents.”
Aikman says his goal is to add a new exhibit each year. He has about 40 acres of land and wants to add an additional eight over the next few years.