The Winston Wildlife Safari, as it’s known, is a series of safaris through the U.S. West in which visitors are guided through an interactive safari game in which they can compete for the top prize.
The winner takes home $2,000 and the opportunity to tour some of the world’s most stunning wildlife, including lions, tigers, elephants, and the world-famous white rhino.
But for those who have been to the safari before, this year’s trip will be their first time in the wilderness and the excitement is palpable.
“We have been in the woods and in the trees since I was four,” said Jennifer McKeown, the wife of the executive director of the Winston Wildlife Foundation, a nonprofit that works to conserve wildlife.
“This is our first time here in the forest, and it’s very different from anything we’ve ever experienced before.”
McKeown said her husband, who’s also a wildlife ecologist, was inspired to go on the safaris after seeing a TV documentary about the safarids in Africa.
“I was inspired by what the story was about and how they were doing it, and that inspired me to go out there and experience it myself,” she said.
“It was the only way I could imagine doing it.”
McKeeys husband, Mike, and his wife, Jennifer, have lived in Arkansas for a few years and have a passion for wildlife.
The couple has spent the past few years traveling throughout the country to experience some of their favorite wildlife, which is what led them to go to the Winston.
McKeys husband is an avid hunter, and Jennifer has been hunting since she was seven years old.
“When I was younger, I always had a love of nature and wildlife,” she told the Star-Telegram.
“It was kind of the first thing that came to my mind when I was a kid.”
Jennifer said that when she and her husband were in the family cabin on a recent safari, they realized that their family could go through this same experience again someday.
“The idea that this was going to be an opportunity to go and see the same places again, I thought that was awesome,” she recalled.
“But then when we got out, it’s like, ‘Wait, you’ve got to be kidding me.'”
Jennifer said she was so excited to see her husband again that she decided to bring along a camera and set out on the Winston with her husband and his brother, Mark.
McKayes husband, Mark, said that the wildlife safaris are an important part of his family’s experience in life.
“They’re just an amazing opportunity to experience something completely different,” he said.
“You have an opportunity that you couldn’t do it in any other way.
You can’t really see the wildlife from your home or anything like that.”
McKay and Mark McKeys were both born in the U-S-Siberia, and have been living in the United States since 2010.
Mark Mckeys, who works as an information technology specialist for a financial services firm, said he’s always wanted to experience wildlife.
“This is a place I can’t imagine being anywhere else,” he told the AP.
“I’m not sure what it is that I want to do with my life.”
While some safari participants have said they’ve been intimidated by the wild, others have enjoyed it.
“You’re in nature, you’re not afraid of it,” said McKeoways son, Ben McKeo.
“If you get a chance to be in nature and go out and see it for yourself, it really is beautiful.
I think it’s going to bring people out of their comfort zone a little bit and to really appreciate the world a little more.”
The family is hoping to visit the lion, tiger, elephant, rhino, and lioness habitats this year, as well as see the white rhinoceros and lions.
The safaris will also feature the lions, which will travel in packs through the forests.
“There are a lot of lions out there,” said Mark McKeefe.
“There’s a lot to see and see things.”
The Winston Wildlife Rescue and Education Center has been offering the safarpads through the years and is also offering a free “Winston Wild Life Education” program to the public.
It is free to participate in.
Follow AP wildlife reporter Jill Colvin on Twitter at @colvinjill.