Safari and Behind the Scenes at Giraffe Ranch (Dade City, Florida)
We ♥ animals. I’ve never met a giraffe I didn’t like so why not visit a place called Giraffe Ranch. We made a reservation for a Safari Vehicle Tour with the expectation to “take part in real hands-on interactions with many species that feed from the vehicle.” Sounds like a grand ol’ time!! Best of all was paying extra for a Behind-the-Scenes Tour. Check out why…
38650 Mickler Rd
Dade City, Fl 33523
Safari Vehicle Tour: $69.99/adults
Behind-the-Scenes Tour: $49.99/pp
Camel Mini-Safari: $20.00/pp
One way: 43.5 miles from Fisherman’s Cove RV Park (without tolls!!!)
Giraffe Ranch is not a zoo or theme park…
A husband (Lex Salisbury) and wife (Elena Sheppa) team manages this 47-acre working game farm since it opened in 2008… with rolling countryside where animals are given room to roam freely. What animals? We’re gonna find out but it felt a little like Jurassic Park already. With that in mind, we waited patiently outside the closed Entrance Gate feeling better each time more people arrived and waited along with us. You see we arrived at Giraffe Ranch about an 1 hour early for our 2:00pm tour. They asked that we be there 30 minutes prior. We just found a grassy area to the side. Parked.
Tip: Tours are by RESERVATIONS ONLY so plan a week or so ahead as they only have 11:00am and 2:00pm tours that last 1 – 1.5hrs.
1st animals greeting us — the camels! Fun Facts…
Look into my eyes… that’s Bill in the reflection.
• Several special of camel here at the ranch from:
– Dromedary: “One hump and were domesticated some 4,000 years ago… are native to the Arabian Peninsula and Africa… many still being used to transport people and goods across inhospitable places.” –The Jungle Store
– Bactrian: “Two humps… are native to Asia, specifically the Gobi Desert that can be 121°F in the summer and -20°F in the winter… were responsible for opening the silk trade routes from China and were used as beasts of burden in Southern Russia and Western Siberia.” –The Jungle Store
– Tuli: “A hybrid between a Bactrian and Dromedary”
• Camels don’t spit. You’re thinking of llamas.
• The word for beauty [in Arabic] is “jamaal” which is taken from “jml” the root that means camel.
• Camels can drink up to 26-40 gallons of water in one go.
• Camels have 3 eyelids. –TodayIFoundOut.com
• A camel’s hump is a giant mound of fat, actually. In a healthy, well-fed camel, the hump can weigh as much as 80 pounds. –Animal Planet
Education-packed experience at Giraffe Ranch
Check out this Giraffe’s leg bone. Can’t remember if it was its Fibia or Femur but it sure is tall. “The giraffe’s most powerful protective asset is a powerful kick it gives with its front feet, with a force strong enough to kill a lion.” – PawNation
Horns vs Antlers:
• Horns have a core made of bone, with a cover made of keratin (same material human hair or fingernails is comprised.
• Antlers begin growing as cartilage…hormone change in male species will cause the cartilage in the antlers to turn into bone. This process is called ossification.
(Source: Wildlife Ranch Texas
Only Regret… not feeding the Ring-Tailed Lemurs
We could’ve added the Ring-Tailed Lemur Feeding for $20.00/pp but decided to save some money for other adventures on our road trip. We’ve already had the opportunity for close encounters with Ring-Tailed Lemurs at San Diego Safari Park. But if you haven’t had a chance to get close up, do it!
A Quick Tour of their Residents Not on the Safari
Really cool and beautiful Blue-Bellied Rollers from Africa. “They have an interesting hunting style: they sit high in trees – about 30 feet up – and dive-bomb prey on the ground.” –BirdProduct.com
Florida’s Sandhill Cranes: “Each night, up to 200 sandhill cranes roost nightly in the ranch’s wetland…” –Visit Orlando
It’s the Outbreak monkey… a white-headed, white throated capuchin monkey! “Living in groups in the forests of Central and South America… can live 44 or more years in captivity… Living off fruits and insects… are active in the daytime…” –BBC
Standing near their exhibit, this guy actually squeezed his arm through the ground fence line and grabbed my pants. Startled me because I didn’t see him. And, on another occasion, grabbed my finger hoping I had a grape.
It’s Sonic the Hedgehog. Never before have I held a prickly hedgehog. Some people own em as pets, too.
This guy wasn’t shy.
Safari and Behind the Scenes Tour: 1st Up: Giraffes
How cute! The only baby giraffe is adorable. The calf is in mommy’s oven for approximately 15 months (453-464 days)…average height at birth is just under 2 metros… –Giraffe Conservation Foundation
How fast can a giraffe run? 32mph –Speed of Animals
How long is a giraffe’s tongue? “18-20 inch long…” –Giraffe Conservation Foundation
Since “giraffes sleep between ten minutes and two hours every day…” I guess the rest of the time they eat and today we’re feeding them sweet potato and kale.
Safari and Behind the Scenes Tour: Hand Raised Camel
We were told this guy was bottle-fed growing up so when you raise your hand flat, like a “Stop / Wait” gesture, he sucks on your palm as if it’s his baby’s bottle.
Safari and Behind the Scenes Tour: Feeding Rhinos
A few minutes ago we saw this aggressive behavior between the rhinos. “Get out everyone,” says our guide, “Time to feed them.” Say What?!!! They’re huge, have horns and have an exterior of an intimidating, tough samurai. But sure. We’ll get up close and feed these 4,000 – 6,000 lb. unicorns (…very cautiously and carefully…) — officially named: Greater One-Horned or Indian Rhinoceros of Asia. Check out more facts about them at WorldWildlife.org
Bill was pleasantly surprised that the Behind the Scenes tour included such an amazing encounter!
Who knew we’d wake up, enjoying breakfast, then be petting the largest of all rhino species by late afternoon. Wow!
Inside the Mouth of an Indian Rhino / Great One-Horned
Complete Photo Gallery
QUESTION: If you were at Giraffe Ranch, which animal would you like to feed: Lemurs, Camels, Giraffes or Rhinos?