Within eyesight from the tower, a sentinel above pastureland reaching to the horizon, several Sichuan takin have emerged from the forest to sit on the far bank of a small pond.

Within eyesight from the tower, a sentinel above pastureland reaching to the horizon, several Sichuan takin have emerged from the forest to sit on the far bank of a small pond.

Nobody has seen them for weeks. Yet there they are, peculiar goat-like giants from China eating and lounging in plain sight. We prepare to get closer.

Not by foot. Not by boat or plane.

One by one, my group of nine spans the lake via cable, using pulleys, ropes and harnesses to shorten the gap between man and beast. Hungry and unfazed by our metallic hum, the animals remain encamped around our destination tower, barely even glancing our way.

Welcome to the newest way into the Wilds, a Southeastern Ohio conservation facility built atop 10,000 acres of reclaimed strip-mining land. The Wild Zipline Safari was launched June 27 by the people behind the groundbreaking Hocking Hills Canopy Tours.

For those who have zipped before, the basics of the aerial safari will seem familiar.

A series of 10 cables zigzags down a ridge, kind of like a long series of skyward switchbacks. Single zips run as long as 750 feet, start as high as 75 feet and propel visitors as fast as 40 mph.

The tour, which on average lasts about two and a half hours, costs $84.

The safari adventure is unlike anything Ohio zippers have seen, said Julieann Eckel, co-owner of Hocking Hills Canopy Tours.

"The experiences are completely different," she explained. "In the Hills, you're in the canopy the entire time, zipping through the trees. At the Wilds, you're zipping over rare and endangered animals."

Those who've already flown through the tour in Rockbridge won't tire of the adventure about 50 miles to the northeast. My group included four people who'd zipped in the Hocking Hills the previous day - and they showed no signs of boredom.

Instead of trees, they found breathtaking panoramic views. Instead of tight arboreal tunnels, they felt wind, sun and open space. And along the way they saw some of the world's most unique and precious animals, ones most people don't even get to see in a zoo.