Founded by Joe Estes as a nonprofit operation, Safari Joe's Reptile World provides a 200-acre sanctuary for more than 250 exotic animals—including lions, leopards, alligators, pythons, and large tortoises—that were unwanted, abused, or neglected. Each week, five to six new animals are donated or abandoned at the facility. Though these animals cannot return to the wild, they receive nurturing care from a cadre of more than 30 volunteers.
While newly abandoned animals remain hidden from view within the sanctuary, the park also boasts exhibit such as Reptile World. This educational, hands-on environment encourages visitors to interact with a slew of exotic animals while learning about protecting each species and their natural habitats.
Jack Spears and his sons David and Austin want people to love the Illinois River as much as they do, so they placed their resort's expansive camping, RV, and cabin grounds on the bank in positions that allow boarders to appreciate the scenery year-round. In the summer, their General Store's ice-cream fountain pours nonstop as river-goers take a rest in the shop's shade. The resort boasts year-round security to preserve campers' gear and scare off loitering snowmen in the winter. The staff also doles out dry goods, supplies, and groceries to campers or families staying in the manors of Pine Valley Retreat throughout the year.