Every summer, my gypsy mama, the kids and I plan a summer road trip. My husband and my dad are not fans of the epic journey that is the road trip, for some strange reason, but more fun for us…
This year we picked Portland, Oregon as our grand destination. That left a lot of hours in the car there and back, and it’s more fun to meander and discover what you can find along the way. Best U-pick blueberries? Had to do some sampling, but check. Lavender farm? Found it! Life-sized bears, seals and vikings carved with a chainsaw? Yes! Drive-through safari where you can feed a rhea bird? Turns out Winston, Oregon, has a really amazing safari with giraffes, bison, tigers, cheetahs, hippos and rhea birds at the Wildlife Safari.
You can park and get out to explore, maybe participate in a few encounters (such as meeting a cheetah face to face, feeding a giraffe or watching an elephant paint), and you can drive through the safari. The safari takes about two hours, leaving plenty of time to watch the bison contentedly grazing or the giraffe feed her baby. Sometimes you have to stop to let the zebras or the elk cross in front of your car. The safari is very open, and the animals that get along together are free to roam around acres of land. You can also purchase feed cups for the deer and rhea birds.
Rhea birds are apparently ridiculously attracted to shiny things. We saw one reach into the car ahead of us, snag a pair of glasses off the dash, and tear off at full speed across the grass. They’re wily. Watch your belongings, especially shiny ones!
You can also feed the deer, which come over to ever so politely nibble from your fingers. Unlike the rhea birds, that stab their beaks into the cup and hope to catch a food pellet. Hilarious to watch, once you get over the idea that an eight inch beak is repeatedly descending on the cup in your hand.
Directions: 1790 Safari Rd., Winston, Oregon
Cost: The drive-through safari ranges from $14-20 depending on age. Check Groupon – they normally have Wildlife Safari half off. If you wait until Groupon has an additional 20% off coupon, which happens about once a week, you can buy tickets for a family of four for around $30. Animal encounters really vary. They’re all listed in Wildlife Safari’s website here. They range from $10 to several hundred dollars depending on how in-depth or adventurous the encounter. Reservations are recommended, but you can sometimes walk up to the gift shop and add on an adventure once you get there.
Did you know cheetahs purr? Tigers and other big cats can roar, while cheetahs and cougars, among others, purr. Whether or not the bone in the neck, the hyoid, is solid, determines if a cat can purr or roar (they can’t do both). You can hear a cheetah purr and learn all about what makes them so fast at Wildlife Safari.