Monday, April 8, 2019
We visited Fossil Rim Wildlife Center twelve years ago. It was great back then. It is even better today.
The wildlife center opens at 8:30 AM. We arrived an hour after opening expecting it to be busy like years back. We were extremely lucky. No lines.
Visitors should plan for at least two hours for the self-guided auto tour. During times when the park is busy (weekends, spring break, summer vacation and holidays), the auto tour can take four hours or more. Leave pets at home. Pets are not allowed in this wildlife center/park.
On arrival, visitors should first stop at the Admissions Building to pay the entrance fee for the self-guided auto tour and/or sign up for guided tours. We chose the self guided car tour. At some future visit, Linda would like to do guided tours so we could see the wolves as well as get closer to some of the other animals.
The other decision to make during admissions is whether or not to purchase animal feed bags.
Spoiler alert! We had half full food bag left over at the end. During our trip twelve years ago, we ran out of food before the end. Your mileage will vary. With children in the car, get more than one bag.
We bought one feed bag with the expectation we would run out quickly. Many of the animals encountered along the road want the food in the feed back. The food is some kind of dry organic pelletized grain mix.
After paying, visitors can enter the park through the park entrance.
Remembering that ostriches are both obnoxious and stinky, we left the windows up and drove on without dropping any food.
Sometimes travelers might be wondering who is on display, people in cars or animals in fields or along the road.
Some of the animals like this crafty old addax have perfected a method of collecting tolls from drivers. He walks towards oncoming cars staying directly in front of the car. When cars move to the left side of the road, he moves left staying directly in front of the car. He only moves out of the way when food is thrown down. Want to pass through his section of road? Pay the food toll!
There are plenty of baby animals to look at. All babies are precious.
Yes, even homely rhinoceros babies are precious.
While on the self-guided tour, visitors may see the guided tours. The van passengers are tossing food on the ground where the ostriches are gobbling it up.
Another tour had stopped and was feeding giraffes out of their hands. The only park animal that can be fed by hand is the giraffe. Apparently they don’t have upper teeth. You are unlikely to loose fingers when feeding them.
Giraffes are generally friendly and non-threatening. One rule visitors should not break is the rule to stay in the car. Every once in a while a normally docile giraffe is reported stomping a human to death. Apparently, when a giraffe or its offspring is threatened, it responds by stomping out the threat.
The good news is, self directed auto tour visitors can feed the giraffes by hand. Linda was driving and I was taking the pictures. I wanted pictures of the giraffe being fed. Failing to talk Linda into feeding the giraffe and unable to get a picture of me feeding the giraffe, I handed Linda the camera.
The giraffe really enjoyed the feed pellets. I could feel her top palette scrape across my hand as she scooped up the pellets. I truly expected her to use her tongue. Giraffes use their foot plus long tongues to pull leaves off trees. Tree leaves are one of their primary foods.
At the tour’s half way point are the Nature Store and Overlook Cafe buildings. These are located at the top of a hill and each has a deck proving views of the park. This is also a good place to stop and use the restrooms.
We walked out the back of the Nature store, saw the Overlook Cafe from the back deck and headed off for some human food.
A portion of all food sales are used to support the park animals. After ordering our chips and guacamole dip, I spent time on the back deck looking at the view and the hummingbirds visiting feeders suspended from the eaves.
Since it was still too cool to eat outside, I went back inside for the chips and dip.
After resuming the self-guided tour, we ran into another animal that had figured out how to extract food tolls. Not sure how animals learn to keep themselves in a car’s path until food is tossed out the windows.
A few native animals like the deer above sneak into the park.
Turkeys, another Texas native, are normally shy and seldom seen. This turkey must be accustomed to seeing cars. It did tend to walk away as our car approached but it did not hurry.
Along the route, we often ran across multi-specie herds like the one shown above. This herd was in the middle of the street eating feed dropped by park staff.
Other herds, like the one shown above, were off the road in beautiful green fields.
Twelve years ago, we only saw a single Cheetah pair. This time, there were five or more cheetah enclosures. Two enclosures had cheetah pairs. Two enclosures had individual cheetahs.
The last enclosure had three cheetahs.
At the end of the tour, we exited through a gate with another cattle guard. We stopped again at the Admissions Building to use the restroom before heading back to Cleburne State Park.
Wildlife safaris sure are fun.
Hope to see you on the road ahead!