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Out of Africa, Part 1

About a ninety-minute drive north of Phoenix, on a 100-acre site in Camp Verde, sits a wild animal park called "Out of Africa". Recently, I toured the facility, camera slung around my neck. A large section of the park is allocated for the herbivores of the African plains and appropriately called "The Serengeti". This is toured by bus — when I got in line, I asked where was the best place to sit and was told to sit up front. And by following that advice, I had a close-up experience with a giraffe. We were all given carrot sticks to feed to the giraffe and he was happy to take them off our hands (literally).

Our driver had additional food — the bars reminded me of dog biscuits — which he fed to the giraffe a handful at a time. At this point, the action was taking place above me and I had to nearly lay down on the front seat in order to take the picture — I was that close to the giraffe.

The Serengeti was divided into two parts and these zebra were on the other side of the fence from the road leading into the part we were to visit. And of course they were looking at us for food — and our driver threw a few handfuls so they were not disappointed.

Into the Serengeti proper and we were greeted by this sable antelope (as best I recall its name). By the way, these animals are pretty smart. They have all learned that the bus will not harm them and, in fact, carries food — so they intentionally block the bus until the driver tosses out some treats — and he is careful to toss them to the side so the animals will clear a path for the bus to continue.

Here we encountered a juvenile sable antelope whose horns are just starting to develop. This youngster will get quite large — some four feet tall at the shoulder and weighting 330 to 600 pounds. The are found in southeast Africa.

Next we were blocked by an oryx. These animals are a bit smaller, about three feet at the shoulder and weighing in at around 175 pounds. If I recall correctly, there is speculation that the oryx may be the origin of the mythical unicorn. if an oryx were to lose a horn or if the animal is viewed from the side, the illusion is of a single-horned animal — thus a unicorn.

To our right was a fence keeping the camel from wondering off into the Serengeti. A hole cut in the chain link fabric allowed the camel to reach out for the one remaining carrot stick that escaped the giraffe.

The driver appeared to be quite fond of the camel and give him another food treat — but did so holding it in his mouth thus getting a "camel kiss". I'll pass on that method of camel feeding.

Another blockage, this time an Addax from the desert regions of central Africa. Love those horns. They are relatively short-legged and stocky weighing some 200 to 230 pounds. Unfortunately, due to over-hunting, the Addax is Critically Endangered with probably less than 300 in the wild.

Our driver stopped the bus at the spot where the ostrich hangs out. He stays in one place near the fence and only comes out when the bus approaches.

I have never seen behavior like this from an ostrich — but it is obvious that the driver and the ostrich are good buddies.

Continuing our tour, we were blocked by this longhorn bovine. Naturally, we all assumed this was a Texas steer but it actually comes from India — a Zebu Longhorn. A couple handfuls of biscuits thrown to the side and this big boy allowed up to pass.

To be continued...


Life is good.

B. David

P. S., All photos and text © B. David Cathell Photography, Inc. — www.bdavidcathell.com