Up Close and Way Too Personal

Dude, where’s the food?

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As part of my son’s birthday yesterday, he decided that we should go on safari. We visited the Natural Bridge Wildlife Ranch near San Antonio, a trip that’s always guaranteed to delight and sometimes alarm visitors.

safaric05-15-10.jpgConsidered a sanctuary for many endangered animals, the wildlife ranch allows native and exotic herbivores to roam freely around the park, and visitors get to drive through and feed the animals, which include Aoudad (shown above), Wildebeest, Cape Buffalo, Zebra, Barasingha, American Bison, Gemsbok, Ostrich and other flightless birds, Blackbuck, Giraffe, and many more species.

There were numerous babies around, as well — here’s a baby Aoudad.

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Gemsbok:

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Watusi:

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Below is a highly endangered Blackbuck — according to the program, there are more Blackbuck in Texas than in their native homeland, India and Pakistan.

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The animals are quite at home in the native Texas hill country, which provides a scenic habitat not too unlike the homelands of most of the deer and goat species.

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For the most part, they get to roam freely, making it a habitat instead of a traditional zoo. There are some areas where animals are kept under closer supervision, including the rhinos and giraffes, most likely for safety and breeding purposes, and there’s also a walk-a-bout with caged lemurs and parrots, but the majority of the park is open hill country.

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 What they say is to drop the food on the ground and let the animals pick it up. And that works for the most part. But realistically what happens is that some animals get in your face and car to get as much food as they can before the next group does.

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The zebras were the most aggressive of the trip. They fight with each other to be the possessor of the car, and they’ll shove a sideview mirror aside for easier access, no problem.

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And then they actively try to get the whole bag of food, not content to be fed a bit at a time, and forget about their willingness to pick up the food from the ground. Keep a close hand on the window controls, that’s all I’m saying!

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Well, I’ll say this too, I got nipped twice by zebras in their zealous drive to obtain food — mostly my arm was in the way of their reaching the bag of food — my failed tug of war with one zebra meant that he got to eat the whole amount of food, bag included. We learned fast to keep our bags of food out of sight and not in our laps!

 
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You have to watch out for these guys, too — the ostriches — if you value your bags of food and your eyeballs.

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And with their long necks, they can reach all the way across the car to the person sitting opposite you.

Now isn’t this a cutie — a tiny Sicilian donkey.

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He couldn’t reach the window, so apparently he and his buddies have trained visitors to just toss food into their mouths. How about a kiss?

 safariq05-15-10.jpgBack at the walk-a-bout, we were delighted to watch a mama lemur and her nursing twins, and the fun antics of the neighboring lemurs. All lemur species are considered endangered or vulnerable, so the wildlife ranch is very proud of their successful breeding program.

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A fun place to visit. Just take care of your fingers!

5 thoughts on “Up Close and Way Too Personal

  1. How much fun! Do you remember the time we went to that safari for my birthday (only 35 years ago) on that rhino tried to push the car over? Mom was in the back seat taking pictures while we all screamed. It seems the wildlife isn’t so wild after all…

  2. Yes, I talked all about that with the family yesterday, and then called Mom to make sure she remembered (she says she still has the pictures). I recall it being utterly cool, though perhaps back then the appropriate word would be “groovy.” :)

  3. Well, at least you didn’t get slimed. My husband and I went there years ago and a zebra dribbled half-chewed grass down the window. My husband jokingly complained about it for months. We should go back. I love seeing the animals.

  4. Awesome, I had no idea this place existed. Spouse and I went to Africa for our honeymoon 9 years ago…Etosha, Waterburg Plateau and a little place in Nambia called AfriCat. I love, love, love Safris and WILL check this place out! Your photos are excellent, thank you for sharing!

  5. What a fantastic way to spend a birthday! We have a simiilar place in Florida…always a good time! Your photos are great! Thanks so much for sharing!

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