Wednesday, July 9, 2008

have you been to safari west?

i am not crazy about circuses or zoos...something about the way animals are treated seems unnatural..but i had read about safari west in the napa valley for years and wanted to give it a try. allie loves animals so during her "napa vacation" this year we decided to add this to our plans. safari west is not a zoo..they are very explicit in their description that they are a wildlife preserve. the following is their description from the safari west website...

"In a world increasingly dominated by technology, instant communication and instant gratification, Safari West stands as a tangible testament to the joy of the natural world, where the pace of life is dictated not by deadlines, but by nature.
Nestled on 400 acres in the heart of California's wine country, Safari West is home for over 400 exotic mammals and birds. Not a zoo, not a drive-through park, it's a wildlife preserve where the whole family can experience some of nature's most beautiful animals in a natural habitat.
Established by Peter Lang in 1989, Safari West gained membership in the American Zoo and Aquarium Association, one of only six private facilities in North America to belong to that prestigious organization. The ongoing mission of Safari West is wildlife preservation through breeding, education, research and public interaction.
What happens at Safari West?
Safari West serves two important functions: first and foremost, we are a wildlife preserve, with several important ongoing projects such as:
The propagation of endangered species. Safari West is the home of zebras, giraffes, cheetahs and many more exotic creatures.
Under the directorship of Nancy Lang, Safari West is breeding several endangered bird species.
Conservation programs are in place for two species of Saharan Desert antelope now extinct in the wild.
But Safari West is more than a preserve. We are dedicated to raising awareness of our exotic neighbors and promoting understanding through in-person contact. That's why we offer safaris year-round. If your only experience with a zebra or giraffe has been at a zoo, you should see these beautiful animals in their natural habitat. You owe it to yourself, and to them.
""It is not often that a person's vocation matches his passion. But, when it does...the result is excellent."
i must agree...safari west is excellent. imagine 400 pristine acres in the napa valley...with wild animals allowed to live as if they were in their native unnatural performance picture being able to experience this up close and personal. i have never been fortunate enough to go on safari in africa...but i think this runs a close second. when you go, you spend part of your time on a walking tour..but most of the time is spent bouncing around in a two level jeep traveling those 400 acres. the prime spot is the 4 person seating on the jeep's rotate your seating throughout the tour so that everyone can experience the "upper deck"..we were fortunate on our tour..there was only one other family on the we each got to spend half the time was a gorgeous day..warm, blue skies...and you could see for miles up there.. the highlight of the trip for us was passing the giraffes' habitat..and having one of the giraffes come right up next to allie... the tour guide said she could pet his head..oh my...have you ever been that close to a giraffe? they are even bigger than you think...and have you ever seen a giraffe's tongue? way, way bigger, wider, longer..and slimier than you can imagine..

safari west also has antelopes, gazelles, lemurs, zebras, cheetahs, wildebeests, nyalas, african cows...over 100 different species of mammals native to africa.. what an experience... but i must tell you my favorite story of that day. the guide was telling us about the safari west wildlife foundation..and their mission to educate the local community through seminars, workshops, wildlife camps for children and that we all develop a deeper appreciation for the animals and continue to understand the importance of conserving/preserving nature and the planet. our guide was telling us that one thing they are trying to do is raise enough capital to put the wildlife preserve into a trust so that it can never be sold to developers..can you imagine how attractive 400 pristine acres in the napa valley would be? allie looked at him and said.."if that happens, what happens to the animals?" she then looked at us and said, "we can't let that happen..i have $35.00 that i saved up for my vacation to spend in napa..i was going to buy some shoes..can i give them the money instead?" how cool is that?..a ten year old so touched that she wanted to donate her vacation money...we told her that of course it would be o.k...the guide was so moved that he radioed for peter lang, the founder, ceo and president of safari west to meet us when our tour ended...the following photo shows peter and allie..with peter holding allie's envelope of money. he was extremely gracious and told us that a donation like that meant a lot more to him than massive amounts from major donors..because it was given from the heart of a 10 yr old who "got it"..and understood what they were trying to accomplish.

i live in is crazy that i had never been to safari west before..i will be back..and will work to support their mission. if you live in napa..please go..if you visit napa..please add this to your itinerary..i promise you will not be disappointed. in the interim..please check out their website safari west for more information..
napa farmhouse 1885
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Anonymous said...

I just visited the Safari West Website. I have never heard of this organization before now but will plan a visit soon. I live in San Francisco so this sounds like a perfect day trip. Thank you for the tip.
I love your blog. Please keep the stories about Napa coming.

KKJD1 said...

Sounds like a great trip, and Allie was so sweet to donate her own money for a good cause. Karen

Anonymous said...

I found your blog via the Martha Stewart website. I think it is beautifully done. Safari West sounds like a very worthwhile organization.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the information.

Anonymous said...

I googled Safari West and your blog was recommended. I will be going next week.
Love your blog by the way!