Jordan Patch was a kid who really, truly loved animals. Never would a family trip be complete without a stop at the zoo, pet shop or even a pasture by the side of the road, where Patch would talk to the cows.
He still talks to the animals, just on a much larger scale and with greater variety. There are 250 animals representing more than 100 species at Animal Adventure Park. Each of them has a name – and Patch knows them all. “My background is in business and my passion is the animals,” Patch says. “The animals have been with me forever. This is bringing animals to people to create the interaction and experiences I wished were around when I was a kid.”
Business came naturally to Patch, who in his teens bought and sold reptiles and other exotic pets. Eventually, he would own a pet store before switching to a bar and grill enterprise. When he lost the business in a flood, the opportunity to blend his two passions re-emerged.
“Animal Adventure came to be from a vision of a beautiful farm, big empty fields and a camel named Max,” Patch says. “What started out with a handful of animals and a dream has turned into this reality that continues to unfold and the opportunities are endless.” In the beginning, there were about 20 acres and a couple of exhibits, including the aforementioned Max. Animal Adventure has grown much, much larger, attracting hundreds of thousands annually.
“People can go to just about any animal facility and encounter animals. What we’re doing here is different in the sense that we’re allowing them to literally immerse themselves in our environment and fall in love with the animals,” Patch says. “There are animals in zoos all over the state, all over the country. Why Animal Adventure? It’s the uniqueness of connecting our animals with our guests through our keepers who are doing this through education.”
In 2017, Patch decided to live stream April the Giraffe as she gave birth. It was really out of necessity. He simply didn’t want to handle the flood of emails asking about April’s status. It became a bona fide sensation, earning more than 232 million views then-qualifying as the second-most watched video in YouTube history. April is still a hit thanks to that fame and a very human-friendly demeanor.
“Every single day at the park, we welcome a dozen to two dozen people from out of state traveling to Harpursville, New York, to meet a famous giraffe,” Patch says. “Weekly we have international visitors … here to see a giraffe they met online and fell in love with.”
April’s far from the only attraction here. The real draw is the interactive experience Patch and his team has intentionally built at Animal Adventure Park. “Everything that goes into the park, every exhibit design, every way that our guests interact with those animals comes from asking ourselves what can we do, how can we make it better and how can we make it memorable,” Patch says. Throughout the park, you’ll constantly find people feeding baby animals or passing carrots to a giraffe.
It’s authentic family fun in a region full of it when you know where to look. “There are festivals and fairs and cultural events literally going on every weekend in Broome County,” Patch said. “No matter when you visit, there’s something to do, you just have to scratch underneath the surface to find it and see why we all love Binghamton.”