We spent Saturday night amid the mating calls of wild birds, ring-tailed lemurs, and assorted African ungulates.
These are the tent-cabin accommodations at Safari West, a 400-acre wildlife preserve and breeding facility in wine country.
We are not zoo-goers. Seeing wild animals in captivity is always a little sad. Unfortunately, animals in the wild, and even in nature preserves, are dying off at alarming rates due to poaching, habitat loss, and other threats. If it's captivity or nothing, I guess I'll take captivity--at least when the captivity is 400 acres of open space with a commitment to promote clean living and healthy reproduction.
Not all the animals share the same open space, but many of the ungulates did.
Most of the visit happens on this Korean War-era safari truck.
There was no touching of the animals or getting off the truck--which is how I like it. The tour guide identified all the animals for us and gave us tidbits. I paid attention, but did not take many mental notes. I took pictures and enjoyed the ride instead. (There were many more animals than you see here. A lot of the pictures didn't turn out well. Read Silke Tudor's lyrical account of her visit here.)
The guys below are Cape Buffalo, ornery creatures considered to be among nature's most fearsome animals. They were recently made famous in this YouTube video where a herd of them drive off a pride of lions
The animals are used to seeing the safari truck and most of them reacted to it with indifference. However the ostriches were more extroverted.
We saw many youngsters
and a few old characters.