MIAMI(CBSMiami) —  About eighty wounded veterans got an up close and personal encounter with some of the animals in Jungle Island Wednesday.

The event is meant to kick-off the Wounded Warrior Project’s annual soldier ride, a six-day, long-distance bicycle ride stretching from South Beach to Key West.

The veterans  of the wars in Iraq  and Afghanistan arrived at the park Wednesday afternoon  for a guided, behind-the-scenes VIP tour through the Jungle.

The group got the chance to interact with such animals as kangaroos, Capuchin monkeys, tiger cubs, among other animals.

The experience is meant to enforce the Wounded Warrior Project’s goal of helping the wounded veterans return to an active life.Their injuries include post-traumatic stress disorder to amputations.

After the tour, the warriors were treated to a reception overlooking Flamingo Lake.