This morning I was up early to take a little trip. In yesterday’s “Austin American-Statesman” there was an article about rare twin reticulated giraffes born on May 10 at the Natural Bridge Wildlife Ranch (www.WildlifeRanchTexas.com) and I was excited at the opportunity to see them. The ranch is active in breeding programs for many threatened and endangered species from around the world.
My only disappointment was in not seeing the male (Nakato); he was hiding in his barn. However, I got a good look at the mother and female baby (Wasswa). They were named for the African names for first- and second-born of twins. Nakato is being bottle fed because of concern that the mother would not produce enough milk to nourish both babies.
I learned several interesting things about giraffes, which are considered a threatened species. The word “giraffe” comes from the Arab word meaning “the one that walks very fast.” When they walk, they swing both feet on one side of the body at the same time. They are 19 feet tall and can weigh up to 3,000 pounds. There is only one species of giraffe but there are nine subspecies, each with a different spotting pattern. The subspecies come from different regions of Africa.
The four-mile drive through the scenic ranchland meanders through several sections – Tatonka Range, Kenyan Preserve, Massai Savanna and Breeding Facilities – where more than 500 animals from forty exotic, native and threatened species can be seen in their natural habitat. Visitors receive little bags of feed for the animals but are warned stay inside their cars and to throw the feed onto the ground instead of feeding the animals by hand. In one case, while I was busy taking a photo out of the passenger side of the car, an ostrich stuck his head inside! I slowly rolled up the window to make him back away and he started pecking on the door. Later a zebra tried to do the same thing. I wasn’t too keen on that either because zebras may bite. I had thought I would have time to get his picture before he finished eating the feed I had thrown on the ground.
The giraffes are outside the safari drive, in a small fenced enclosure across from the visitor center, where it is safe to get out of the car. I wish they had been in a larger enclosure with less intrusive fencing but perhaps this was done to protect the newborns. There was no way to photograph them without including the fence. I snapped away anyhow!! The other giraffes in the open pasture kept walking back and forth beside the enclosure.
On the way to the ranch I saw a cute billboard: Ten miles to San Antonio, Schertz’ largest suburb.
On the way home I stopped at the Tanger Outlet Center, San Marcos, to have lunch at the Cracker Barrel and then I went to the Hanes Brands store.
Route: I-35 S, Exit 175 => FM 3009 N about five miles outside Garden Ridge
Weather Conditions: Cloudy and warm