Wild Animals Up Close

We've fed a few animals at zoos on various occasions, but the Photo Caravan Safari at San Diego Zoo's Safari Park is quite a different experience. It is hard to appreciate the peaceful presence that giraffes have until they are surrounding you and you look at them eyeball-to-eyeball, with their long tongues curled around eucalyptus leaves you are holding for them. And we have a much different feeling now about rhinoceros after repeatedly reaching far inside their gentle mouths while they wait patiently to be fed.

We're standing on a truck bed that is already five feet (1.5 m) off the ground, yet this was a baby giraffe Anne is feeding in the top picture. The really tall ones had to bend far down to reach us.

Having this many wild animals approach the truck is certainly the most exciting aspect of the journey. But spending several hours driving through the vast rolling hills of the Safari Park and simply observing many mixed groups of animals playing and eating in natural settings is equally memorable. Late afternoon or early evening is an especially good time for this adventure, when the animals are not sluggish from the hot sun.