After my disappointing squirrel spotting last week, I decided I was tired of waiting for the deer to come to me. So I convinced my husband that we needed to make the about two hour each way drive to visit the Lazy 5 Ranch, which is a privately owned animal park near Charlotte, NC. I had been wanting to go ever since I read about the ranch a couple of months ago, because I was intrigued about the fact that you can do a "drive through safari," where you drive a 3 1/2 mile loop through the ranch, feeding animals out your car windows. For only $8.50 per person and $3 per bucket of food!
When we arrived just after noon on Saturday, we had to wait in line about 5 minutes to pay and enter the park, but it was much more crowded when we left several hours later. After you get your buckets of food, it's time to drive into the animal area of the park. Notice the sign about entering at your own risk. There were also signs about not worrying about getting animal drool on your car, that it would wash off!
(note to self, next time wash the inside of my car windows for better pictures)
There were a few smart animals waiting just inside the gates, ready to eat from our freshly purchased food buckets!
You can see the car in front of us in this picture, with animals surrounding it. You pretty much just moved forward when either you could because the cars in front of you moved, or when you were ready to find different animals to feed.
They did give us a list of animals you weren't supposed to feed, which included the zebras, cows with horns, and the rhino. This zebra didn't want to listen though, and quickly went for the floor of the car where the buckets were!
So, I knew before we got there that they had deer (and ostriches, giraffes, a rhino, llamas, and lots of other animals), but what I didn't know was there were tons of baby deer! Squeeeeeeeeeeeee!
(OMG you guys, I got to feed AND pet baby deer!!!)
Seriously, this place was the coolest. These were some happy animals, and I was like a kid in a candy store!
At one point my husband remarked that the zebra ahead of us was "happy to see me." It took a moment for me to realize what he was talking about, LOL!
We continued around the park loop, stopping frequently to feed the various animals. And it took us almost half way around until we even had another car behind us, so going early was definitely a good idea.
(Awww, yeah! More baby deer!)
The rhino was the only animal that didn't look that happy. Probably because he was one of the only ones who couldn't be fed, poor guy!
If you don't want to drive, or get drool on your car, you can also take a wagon ride around the park, for a few extra dollars. It looked like fun, but not something I'd want to try in the hot sun, and risk getting a sun burn and go without air conditioning!
Right past the rhino was the giraffe enclosure, but you could feed these guys, because they could both stretch their necks over the fence, and their tongues were long enough to get in the buckets through the fence.
These guys were a little big and not something I wanted sticking their heads into my car, so we rolled up the windows to pass them.
This guy was friendly though and wanted to check out his nose in the mirror!
Baby piglets (cue more squeeees from me!).
Some of the animals were even taller than my car, like this guy I took a picture of out my sunroof. But they really were all so sweet and friendly (and food driven!).
After we finished driving the loop, we had a little food left in the buckets, so we walked through the petting zoo area to get rid of our leftovers.
(Yeah, by the end of the day, my hair wasn't looking so hot. Humidity, deer nuzzles and giraffe drool are to blame!)
And once I got back in my car, I found little pieces of food everywhere. On the seats, in the cup holders, on the floor, even some on my dashboard. So not only do I need to go through the car wash, a good vacuum is definitely in order too. But it was SO TOTALLY WORTH IT!
Quite possibly one of the best days ever. At least in my top ten! I don't think I've ever grinned so much, or squealed about "BABY DEERS!" so much at a zoo or other animal park before. I think this might even top the place in Mexico we went where I got to hold a 2 month old baby lion and play and wrestle with a 4 month old baby jaguar!
In fact, I was so amped up on animal loving adrenaline all day, that I was ready for bed by about 8:30 that night. I think I might have gotten my fill of deer...at least for this week! ;)
Have you ever been on a drive through safari? And aren't those baby deer so adorable?