Things I Love About Austin: Natural Bridge Wildlife Ranch

11:17 PM

Let's set the scene. It's Sunday afternoon, and both John and I are going stir crazy after a veeeeeerrrryyyyy lazy Saturday (read: blobbing out while watching 5 movies in a row). Wanting to get out of the house at any cost, we hop in the car to head over to the grocery store and run a few errands. As we are pulling out of the driveway, John suggests we head to San Antonio and beelines it for I-35. Did we think we would be going on a Texas-style African safari 45 minutes later? Nope....but I can tell you, IT WAS THE BEST DAY EVER!

There is a billboard trying to sell you something every mile on 1-35. Outlet malls? Check. Discount flooring? Check. Triple XXX adult megaplex? Check...and ewww. Whataburger? Check. What we weren't expecting to see? A billboard spotlighting a zebra and giraffe. I don't think we could have veered off the highway fast enough. Sincerely hoping that it wasn't a lame-o tourist attraction, we rolled into the Natural Bridge Wildlife Ranch  just outside of San Antonio and things got infinitesimally better from that point on.

The park works like so: drive in, roll your windows down, get up close and personal with a bunch of animals found on the African savannah, and have the time of your life.

With our entrance fee came a baggie full of nasty smelling vitamin pellets to feed the animals. Bon appetit!

We were greeted by one of my most favorite animals in the entire universe, a family of adorable giraffes. I think the crush was mutual, because the second I walked up to fence (pretty much the only part of the park that is fenced in), one walked right over to me to say hi. I nearly died of happiness. She's so fabulous.

Speaking of fabulous, this Formosan Sika worked the runway like Naomi Campbell. The supermodel of the savannah, without a question...except for the fact that she eats. A lot.

Then we spotted one of the more unfortunate faces in the park. These guys are what I refer to as "lion food," but more commonly known as the Wildebeest. Talk about giving new meaning to the saying "Why the long face?" - pretty sure it originated with these fellas since they are worried about becoming somebody's dinner 24/7.

This is a kudu. Kudus are big. And hungry. This beauty walked right up to the car and tried sticking her whole head in, so she got the window roll-up treatment at first since well...that freaked me the heck out. It's not everyday you have a kudu drooling in your lap, you know. She batted those pretty eyelashes at us, and John ended up HAND FEEDING her. I was manning the camera and managed to nab a vid of it...think we've watched John's reaction about 4 or 5 times now. Still hilarious, still awesome.

I was super stoked to see the zebras. Since these guys are known to pack a mean bite, we kept our windows half rolled up but that didn't stop them from coming right up to the car. One of them even gave me a smile while getting his portrait done. Say "Gingivitis Is The Leading Cause of All Tooth Decay!!!"....or "Cheese!", whichever you prefer.

Crazy ostrich man got the 3/4 window roll-up treatment because he was pecking the crap out of our car (and everyone else's for that matter). He showed us who's boss....and there really isn't an argument about that. Not interested in getting in a tussle with a 7 foot bird with a super sassy attitude...

....and a gnarly case of ugly butt.
We played eye spy with a lovely little llama.
Watched King Julian move it, move it on his mini Madagascar Island.
Swooned over the most precious baby goat with the stumpiest little legs ever, and filled his belly with plenty of snacks. Wanted to take this little guy home with me. Perhaps we need to rethink this puppy love thing, and opt for a pet goat? ;)
Couldn't leave without saying bye to my new bff...
Two thumbs up, Natural Bridge Wildlife Ranch! I officially want to come here every single weekend. It was just the coolest experience being able to see the animals without fences. It's like your very own trip to Africa without all the shots, and for only $20. Doooooo itttttttttttttt.
All photos © Triple Max Tons

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  1. Cool place - and what beautiful animal shots too! That one of the zebra is priceless. I too have a serious affinity for giraffes. They are just the coolest creatures ever! Thanks for sharing.

  2. much better day than a whataburger...xotravis

  3. Love it! What fabulous pictures.

  4. Oh my god! I love how impromptu this trip was! I'm sure it made it that much more fun! Also, I want that baby deer. I get to see you today!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    1. I officially want to take you and Danny here...then we can go spelunking at the caverns in the park next door. Sound like a plan? COOL. It's on.

  5. Wait. This is in Texas?? Okay, the fact that I've lived in Houston for 10 months and haven't traveled outside of the city is probably not good...

    1. Know it's a pretty far trek from Houston, but gooooooooooooo!!! There are even caverns next door. AMAZING.

  6. AH! I'm soo jealous. This looks awesome. Zac wants a baby goat so should get one. They are adorable. Great pics! xoxo


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