CORVALLIS, Ore. — The Benton County Fair is now in full swing, and anyone under the age of 18 gets in for free this year.
The carnival rides, the music, the 4H animals, the barbecued food, and the bungee jumping: the atmosphere at the fairgrounds is back to life.
“I just got to go like 20 feet up in the air,” said 8-year-old bungee jumper Dylan Lowther. “It was awesome. I love coming to the fair with my family. We have a lot of fun.”
Besides the rides, fair-goers can also take a walk on a different kind of wild side. They can meet exotic animals, including Nikita, a 5-week-old Barbary lion.
A Walk on the Wild Side, a nonprofit from Canby, bought her in the hopes of continuing to conserve the extinct wild lions. This year at the fair, the organization hopes to show the public what it is all about: education, conservation, and rescue.
“Usually when an animal is born into captivity, they need to stay in captivity,” said animal handler Julie Moore. “They wouldn’t know how to take care of themselves in the wild.”
Moore says without animal conservation groups, Nikita would not survive if released into the wild.
“There are not going to be these beautiful animals to see,” she said. “That makes me sad. It’s sad to have them in captivity, but if that’s the way we can keep them safe and keep them going on forever, then I’m all for it.”
The fair is a way for the group to not only educate, but to fundraise.
Nikita will be at the fair through Thursday, but the exhibit will be set up through Saturday.
More information about the organization is available by clicking here or by visiting its Facebook page.
To learn more about the fair, click here.