“Wouldn’t it be majestic,” My wife says to me, pausing the television, “To look up and see the face of that lion as it eats you?”
I look at her, a curious look on my face and turn towards the television where the King of the Jungle is bearing his teeth. This isn’t the first time she’s said this, but it still never fails to catch me off guard.
I love animals. I inject Animal Planet into my body like a bad habit, I release spiders to the outside world instead of smashing them, I won’t even step on a snail without shedding a tear, but, I don’t want to get mauled by a lion. Not even a little bit.
Besides, this seems like a far away problem. We live here, in Portland, Oregon where, apart from the Oregon Zoo, the nearest lions are an ocean away in Africa. The odds of getting mauled by a lion seem remote. Or, so I thought.
Turns out, my thoughts on the distance of wild lion was off by a touch. Try three hours to the south of Portland in Winston, Oregon.
In Winston, Oregon, I discovered, there is a wildlife Safari, perhaps on par, and a little safer and much less expensive, than any that you will find on the Dark Continent.
Sprawled over 600 acres, the Wildlife Safari in Winston is a four mile guided driving tour featuring more than five hundred and fifty animals from the Americas, Asia, and, yes, Africa. Predators like lions and tigers and bears (oh my!) live here in perfect harmony with prey, including bison, zebras, and giraffes. Still, during our visit, my wife, with her majestic fantasy, chose not to tempt fate and leave the safety of the vehicle. Close encounters are encouraged, though it is recommended you keep behind four doors.
The Park itself was established in 1972 by Frank Hart. Since that time, it has assisted in protecting “endangered species while educating the public about them and their important roles in the fragile ecosystem. Visitors can make arrangements for private and personalized animal encounters as well as visit the safari village zoo, botanical gardens, and gift shop.”
I also recommend the feed cup. You haven’t lived until you have let a giraffes tongue slather your skin with slobber or had a friendly bison nuzzle up against you. Feed cups are discouraged for predatory animals.
Better than a zoo because of the more natural habitat and up close encounters, the Wildlife Safari, is a one of a kind experience. For more info, and to book your safari, visit http://www.wildlifesafari.net/contact.