Thursday, July 29, 2010

The Lazy 5 Ranch | A Safari Adventure In Suburbia

It has been about four years since our family went to Lazy 5 Ranch in Mooresville, NC. The ranch is a drive-through safari and wildlife refuge for endangered animals from six continents, with no fences or cages to separate you from the animals. With summer's end quickly approaching and our family feeling a bit cabin-fevered because of the heat, we decided to return to Lazy 5 Ranch. Lazy 5 Ranch is located about 1.5 hours south of the Triad towards Charlotte in the suburb of Mooresville. With temperatures pushing near 100 F today, our car fought its hardest as its heat soaked engine tried to keep us cool on the way down.

On May 22, 1993 after several years of hard work and planning, the Lazy 5 Ranch was officially open. Lazy 5 Ranch is now the home for over 750 animals from 6 continents. These animals can be viewed everyday of the year by horse drawn wagon or from your vehicle while traveling along a 3-1/2 mile safari ride.
The purpose of the Lazy 5 Ranch is to provide an excellent environment and helping the recovery of several endangered species including the Grevy Zebra Scimitar Horned Oryx and Ring-tailed Lemur.

When we arrived we pulled into the ranch and paid the admission. Admission is about $31.00 for a family of four and a bucket of feed. ($8.50 per adult, $5.50 per child & $3.00 for feed) We bought additional buckets. We bought three which was just enough, bringing our grand total for admission just under $40.00. Once you get past the gate there's a picnic area with toilets, a small gift shop, playground, gardens, and petting farm. If you choose to continue into the "auto-zoo" (auto-safari), you'll begin a 3.5 mile journey of animals ramming your vehicle, pecking your hands, and several attempts made by goats to surf your hood. You can of course, also feed the animals with the feed from your windows, or just choose to hold the bucket out to them, so they can smell it and drive off once they get their head in the window. (Got to love power windows.) Either way it's an amusing adventure.

The emus remind you of the velociraptors in Jurassic Park, as does the whole journey throughout the park. Let's be honest, even if you drive a completely new car to Lazy 5 Ranch, (which you shouldn't) at some point in your mind, while you're surrounded by a family of two-ton bison, you'll think: "God I hope I don't break down", as you remember the T-Rex scene in the movie.

With the windows down and the air-con on, condensation formed on the dashboard. The kids turned into sweaty slime-balls, and though we were smart enough to bring a six-pack of soda-pop, we didn't actually think to drink one. I suppose if you have back seat air-con it wouldn't be so bad, but it was still hot. I hate to think anyone coming here without air-con in their car.

It's all worth it as you transverse Lazy 5 Ranch's winding auto-safari that's over 3.5 miles long and filled with giraffes, ostrich, rhinos, pigs, deer, goats, zebras, and other diverse animals that literally eat out of the palm of your hands. Huge Bison that made our car look like a Matchbox vehicle emerged along with animals the size of small airliners. Birds the size of Big Bird stuck their heads in our car windows and were literally close enough to snag our first born child.

When you're done with the auto-safari, be sure to save some feed for the petting zoo. You park the car and head back towards the windmill where you'll find the camels, goats, Finnish rabbits, African porcupines, and several other surprises along the way. You'll also find the baby animals like the baby giraffe and goats. What's more is they get super happy to get fed because most people run out of feed by now or simply leave refusing to exit their cars. After all this is America.

There is a snack center available as well as a gift shop, though I have a better recommendation for you. Save your money and turn right out of Lazy Five Ranch. About nine miles down the road there's a Jack In The Box. You can't get them anywhere near Greensboro, but there you can get a fried taco. That's just what we did! We sat under the cool fans eating stuffed jalapenos, deep fried tacos, and unlimited drinks from the soda fountain. Life was good.

While it was hot, it's a tolerable summer activity if you have a good air conditioned car, comfy leather seats, and don't care if the horny wildebeest humps your Ford Taurus trying to mate with it.

Henry Wu: You're implying that a group composed entirely of female animals will... breed?
Dr. Ian Malcolm: No, I'm simply saying that life, uh... finds a way. 

If you'd like to see all our pictures from Lazy Five Ranch, watch the video: