And then I met a rhino...


We have been making my dad cheesy little "gift certificates" for the past two birthdays to go to The Wilds. I was feeling a little bad that we hadn't fulfilled the promise yet, since we always said we'd go when it "cools down" in September. Well, the perfect weather lent itself to the big trip this weekend. My mom watched Larkyn, because there was no way on God's strip-mined Earth that she could handle the 90 minute drive + 2.5 hour safari.

A quick intro to The Wilds, if you have never been. 90 minutes East of Columbus is Zanesville, which was, at one point, very oil rich and consequently stripped to the bones. There was nothing that could be done with the ruined land, so AEP donated the land to The Columbus Zoo. The ground was so infertile that the only vegetation that can thrive is similar to that of African grasslands. The zoo uses it to get some animals ready to bring to the zoo (ie: the giraffes), breed endangered species, and to provide sanctuary for the others. But it is also full of things to do if you are the adventurous type.

Overlooking the pastures from the place the buses depart. If you look closely, you can see one of the zipline outposts.
This is not your tacky "drive through" wild animal park. This place is MASSIVE (over 9,000 acres) and you truly feel like you might actually be in Africa, if not for all the people sitting around you in their OSU tee shirts.

  {Click on the pictures to see them nice and big! This size does them no justice!}

Your trip begins by parking in a lot, then a shuttle takes you up to the ticket/concession area. This is where the Zipliners start their crazy journey from the top of the hill. I'd actually like to do it one day!

Then, you board your choice of vehicle: air conditioned bus, open air bus (better choice if you want good pictures), there are truck tours, and private jeep tours.

Our bus. This is the first of two stops it makes for snacks, restrooms, etc. Right outside that fence was some action!
Your tour begins with an energetic tour guide who jokes about the pot holes. Only she is not joking. Maybe bring a donut seat if you value your tailbone.  The tour goes through many different pastures, so large that I lost count. Animals are separated so they don't...well, kill each other.  And here are the stars of the show...
Our guide just finished telling us we may or may not see rhinos in the distance because they are usually hiding.

Not only was it one, it was a MOM AND BABY!

They walked right beside me, but I freaked out and got out the phone to video (missing actual pics of them). Oops.
I looked past all the other normal looking camels, straight to this guy. Hilarious.

It is apparently not true that camels spit at people. It is actually vomit. Pucker up!

Przewalski's Wild Horse. The only true wild horse in the world, native to Asia. Look how her mane goes the full length of her back. She must use the Jennifer Aniston hair products.

One of the stops. The last of the zipline outposts in the valley, right on a catfish-filled pond.

The birthday boy and my "Safari wear"

While others walked down to the pond, we horse-watched. I think I've mentioned that we are horse people, so we knew something interesting would happen. These are all females, so obviously Sparkles offended Sassy.


Well hello, beautifuls. Can you spot all 3?

She just went for a swim, that's why she looks disheveled. Also, her brain is smaller than her eye.

There were several other animals that were way off in the distance, in enclosed areas, or were hiding for the day. But honestly, the rhinos were enough for me. Definitely worth the trip and cost, and you can do something different each time you go. One trip is by horseback, they have yerts where you can spend the night, fishing trips, a butterfly habitat, and a carnivore area. The carnivores were in hiding today, except for the cheetah. They don't seem to be the paparazzi-friendly animals like my BFF camels.

Happy birthday/Father's Day, dad! {don't think I didn't hear you end a phone call by saying "Hold on, I gotta tell my daughter how to drive a car...}

Hints if you are going:
  • The registration process is a little annoying if you do not do it a few days in advance. Within an 18 hour window, you can't book online (it tells you to call). Then you call, and they say they can't book over the phone. You have to take the chance of driving all that way and having to wait. Book online ASAP, even though it says "reservations not required".
  • Parking is $5. The tours vary, but ours was $30/person.
  • Bring your own snacks and drinks. You can't eat while the vehicle is moving, but can drink. There are 2 stops along the way where you could get out and eat. There are also concessions in 2 areas.
  • Do not use your phone GPS! You will lose the signal and your phone will die trying to find it. 
  • Fill your tank with gas before you go. I was mortified for a guy in the gift shop who had to have the rangers come fill his tank once he realized that the nearest gas station is 18 miles away.


1 comment:

Desiree said...

That looks amazing! How cool that you were able to go on 'safari.' And PS, I completely approve of your safari wear. Gorgeous! :-)

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