If you are going on a safari.....it's best to get an early start. We consider 0900 an early start when heading out with two kids. After breakfast, we packed the kids and snacks up in the car and set off. Fortunately, we didn't have too many miles to cover before we could begin the adventure. Get prepared...the only shots taken in this safari were with cameras.
After we arrived at the Wildlife Ranch, we paid our entrance fee which included a bag of animal food and got a second bag just in case.
First up, a Japanese Sika (left) and Aoudad sheep in the forefront.
These are Watusi cattle. Bet you thought they were longhorns????
Bison strolling among the other animals. The bigger animals preferred the hay or corn put out for them but the others loved the animal pellets we got at the gate. Probably a good thing right?
Okay, you have to have your eyes wide open to see everything. Steve noticed this on our second trip through. It's a dung beetle pushing a ball of s_ _t across the road. That is the pavement so you can tell how magnified this is. He has good eyes.
With the bison are Fallow deer or Axis deer, I have a hard time telling them apart.
This young female Kudu Antelope stuck his head in for a quick visit and a snack.
Looks like these male Kudu Antelope are having a serious discussion.
These animals are very friendly and move from vehicle to vehicle looking for snacks. Don't give them anything except the animal pellets.
This deer has quite a set of antlers. Do you know the difference between antlers and horns? Antlers come in all shapes and sizes but they have branches and points. Only the males have antlers.....they grow them and shed them each year. They start out as cartlidge covered with velvet (fur) which falls off when the antlers ossify into bone. A few weeks after they lose the antlers, the whole process starts over. On the other hand, horns are permanent. If lost, they do not grow back. They are bone with a cover of keratin like human hair or fingernails.
These elk have antlers antlers with velvet on them.
These Scimitar have some seriously long horns.
I'm not sure if Morgan was about to sneeze but we were stopped here because there were so many animals along the road.
Next stop, the Kenyan Preserve.
This ostrich was moving right along....directly towards us! We weren't sure if he was saying "welcome" or move along.
These are Damaraland Zebra.
They have a brown shadow stripe between the black and white stripes. Did you know that no two zebras have the same stripe pattern and that each side of the zebra has a different pattern?
Another ostrich....I think these huge birds were the least friendly animals in the park. You don't want their heads coming into the car. Notice their big toes.
The rhinocerus were in a pen along the road. They are the only animal with a horn growing out of their nose. It continues to grow their whole life.
The kids were quite sure this wasn't Maurice the camel that they knew in Turkey because Maurice only had one hump.
We are definitely moving across the whole continent this trip.
Ostriches again. I wonder if he knows what an unattractive pose this is. You can see the bone where all the feathers are attached. There is nothing wrong with him, it's just how the underside looks.
I think this is an Emu but it could also be a Rhea. They were very friendly and curious.
The Llamas were very friendly too.
By this time, you may be convinced we were in Africa but no....this is Texas and the cactus are in bloom. Aren't they beautiful?
Where's the chow? Such friendly little donkeys.
Right here boy, put it right here!!!! I can't make it any easier than this. They were so funny and expressive. Definitely professional crowd entertainers having just as much fun as the people.
Yes, we had a wonderful time! We drove through twice. I would definitely recommend morning as the best time to visit before the heat hits and the animals move further away from the road to nap.
But the fun wasn't over yet. Now it was time to get out of the car to check out the next adventure.
The lemurs had a lovely island home surrounded by a moat filled with fish.
Next on to the Petting Barnyard.
Lots of little goats.
There was only one more area to visit. We wanted to see the giraffes. Giraffes have horns which are bone with a layer of hair.
We had a wonderful time at the Wildlife Ranch. Have to admit that we didn't visit the Gift Store or the restaurant. They do have a nice outdoor picnic area. Everything was clean and well taken care of. In 2014, they are adding another whole area. They give military discounts, senior prices, and be sure to visit their website for a coupon if you don't qualify for one of the discounts above. Natural Bridge Wildlife Ranch is not just for kids. It's located on FM 3009 just northeast of San Antonio.
We'll be back!