We arrived 15 minutes before our tour - tours are daily at 11 am and 2pm and are by reservation. I brought my 18 year old son to feed the giraffes. He loves giraffes.
We checked in at the gift shop which is new and has a great selection of items from t-shirts to unique art and animal themed toys. Driving onto the place was like stepping into the savannah as I imagine. Huge grandfather oak trees with wide open pasture. Relaxed me immediately, although I was excited about the impending adventure.
We were brought into an enclosure where we were given a short tour on foot of lemurs, which patrons can hand feed grapes to for an additional fee. Another add-on is to step into a canary room where the colorful birds will flock to your feeding stick. There are interesting birds, chickens, tortoise, patas monkeys and some additional unique wildlife. We were educated about each type of animal and how Giraffe Ranch cares for and utilizes them in its eco-ranch operations. There were baby lemurs which were simply adorable.
We went back to the picnic area and received informal instruction on giraffes, antlers vs. horns, and what we were likely to encounter on the tour. The owners are well educated and know their stuff. Questions abounded and they were all answered. This is a small tour group of ten, but the vehicles will fit up to 24 per tour.
We loaded up into the open air truck with bus seating and head off onto the ranch. First we encountered a herd of haflinger horses, which are simply beautiful with their flaxen manes and golden color. Most are grazing when we pull up near them. Our tour guide get out and pours a bit of feed on the ground near the truck and the horses and several zebra come over to eat. It is serene and exciting at the same time.
We move onward under huge oak trees and there is a zebra herd and a herd of Irish Dexter cows in the vacinity. A camel shows up and seems to like our driver, the owner of the ranch. He explains that the camel was rejected at birth by its mother and that it has formed quite an attachment to him. For the rest of the tour, the young camel follows us through the 50 acres or so. It's quite comical.
We stopped and the owner got out and cut several oak branches from one of the trees. He said we would use them later. We were so busy oohing and aaahing at the magnificence of the place and the beauty of the animals in a natural setting that we forgot all about them.
A herd of axis deer went jumping past us - not too close - but it was a magnificent sight to behold the herd moving in unison. Hard to describe in words. Couldn't get it quick enough with my camera, but I'll never forget it.
There are ostrich, zebra, warthogs and camels as part of the tour also. I almost forgot about the giraffes (NOT). We learned about each type of animal and its purpose at the ranch, as well as the reproduction that occurs naturally when animals are allowed to move freely. The owner of the ranch has worked in or run several zoos before opening Giraffe Ranch and he explained that this was a farm where the exotic animals could live more naturally and that it appeared to be working out well for all.
We got to feed the oak branches to the giraffes! There are four adult giraffes living at Giraffe Ranch and one brand new baby!!!!! It was a week old when we visited. We pulled up along side the giraffe pen and held out our oak branches and a couple of the giraffes came over and munched them. We were told to hang onto the branch and the giraffe came closer and closer to eat it all -- and actually licked my hand with its big black tongue!
What an experience!
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