Wild Animal Safari

Pine Mountain, Georgia has a drive-thru zoo: Wild Animal Safari. It’s been there for years. Over the years I’ve seen signs for it and, like the various alligator parks in Central Florida and Cherokee Indian dance shows in Gatlinburg, TN, I’ve driven by them without much thought. This past week I loaded into a gas-hogging SUV with my father, brother-in-law, seven kids, and five large bags of Safari Chow.

This place is crazy. I don’t think it would be legal in Massachusetts. After buying tickets and being warned that you drive your vehicle through the park at your own risk, you enter the gates of a 200-acre park, with a 3.5 mile winding one-lane road, over hills and around a small lake with water the color of Georgia red clay. As soon as you enter the gates, hoards of large animals line up to stick their heads inside your vehicle and to bless you with Holy Slobber. In exchange for chunks of food. Animals like the Yakatusi, the Nilgai, the Rhea, the Black Buck Antelope, the Watusi, and the North American Elk. Lots of Elk.

One memory the kids will never forget is when the three-story Giraffe stuck its head into our vehicle, allowing them to pet its head, dripped about one cup of spit onto my head, and then took an entire bag of our food, eating it, bag and all, and dropping a few pieces to the flock of ostriches at its feet.

The park also has Bear, Wolves, Hyena, Tigers and Ligers (one of the rare cases of a Tiger-Lion hybrid in captivity, sounds like a big zookeeper Oops to me). But these are, fortunately in a separate walk-through and properly caged part of the park.

Here are some pictures from the park, and if you’re ever in West Central Georgia, and need a little Giraffe Hair Gel, find this place.

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