I’ll level with you – I love animals but I love them in the sort of way that involves (for the most part) the animals being viewed from afar – depending on the animal, of course. The Virginia Safari Park is located in Natural Bridge, Virginia and is 180 acres of rolling mountain hills filled with all manner of exotic wildlife that come right up to your vehicle and eat food out of your hands. It all sounds very exciting – right?
Thursday afternoon was blisteringly hot – so I was thrilled that this portion of the “staycation” took place from the comfort of the air conditioned car. We got our buckets of feed and rolled across the grates that keep the animals inside the 180 acres of open land and immediately our car was approached by llamas on all sides. I’d like to say that any one of the above pictures showcases my hands reaching out of the window to feed the llamas – but the minute a llama came toward my open window, I screamed and rolled my window up. And y’all – I mean I screamed. It wasn’t a little “eek” – it was a full blown murder shriek and I was done. *insert laughter emoji here*
The whole thing was delightfully entertaining and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I even rolled my windows down again several times, although not ever to feed an animal. I did feel the need to question the wildebeest on why they’d killed Mufasa…although they are firmly in the camp of “no comment”. I also talked to several deer, antelope, buffalo and zebra – but this was done when they were a bit farther from my open window, no need to give them a chance to sneak up and stick their heads in my face!
The herds of antelope were a favorite of mine – especially the Blackbuck antelope with the spiral horns! As we passed through the more shaded areas of the park, we encountered several herd of deer, antelope and even a herd of buffalo – which were gigantic! While many of the buffalo were relaxing in the shade, there were two or three that were more than ready to poke their heads into the car window and sample some feed – but this is where even my Mom lost her nerve. She said their heads were much too large to put through the car window and she quickly rolled up her window – and a buffalo dragged his nose across the closed window, emblazoning it with a banner of snot.
My personal favorite animal was the zebra – I would have happily rolled my window down to feed them, but unfortunately that wasn’t an option. *sigh* I know what you’re thinking… I am only saying that because I didn’t have the option to punk out of feeding the zebra, but honestly – I’d have fed them for sure! All you could do was pour some of the feed through a PVC pipe tube into their enclosure and so I did try that…
Once the ride through was completed, there was another section that was more along the lines of a traditional zoo with animals in enclosures for viewing – but it did include a petting zoo with goats and giraffes that could be fed with cups of lettuce and feed. Little goats are cute, but I didn’t really have much interest in petting them, but I thoroughly enjoyed walking around the pathways and looking at all the animals in their little homes.
The Safari Park had two Bengal tigers – one white and one orange, both were lounging in the shade and were hard to get a picture of…but I tried! They also had a kangaroo walk about and we made our way up to the giraffe feeding station, where I offered my $5 bill for a souvenir cup filled with romaine lettuce and was told they only accepted cards. Boo. So I just observed the giraffe – still quite up close though!
After taking in the monkeys, the peacock and passing by the African penguins just one more time – we decided that it was crazy hot outside and we’d seen all their was to see. We missed the wolves and the cheetah but honestly guys – it was just SO hot outside, in the way that left you feeling physically drained. We packed it in and headed for home.
We stopped in the college town of Harrisonburg (home to James Madison University) and grabbed dinner at an Irish Pub I found via Yelp – called Corgan’s Publick House – the food was delicious! I had a cup of the potato soup and the chicken pot pie, so yummy! We arrived home with plenty of time to spare and called the day a victory on all fronts!
If you live in the Virginia area and think you’d like to check out the Virginia Safari Park, the link is: http://www.virginiasafaripark.com/ and I can guarantee it’s worth your while! The park was so fascinating and even my Dad – who is NOT an animal person – voted it his favorite part of the day because it was a unique and new experience! I’d say July “Staycation” 2018 was a success!