While in Washington, we decided to go visit the Olympic Game Farm, a drive-thru wildlife park. We’d been to Bearizona, a similar place near Flagstaff, AZ, but this one offered the chance to feed the non-carnivorous animals which sounded pretty cool. You buy loaves of bread at the entrance and feed the animals as you go.
The first animals you come across are the yaks and llamas. The yaks are like a street gang. They’re organized. One comes up to each side of the vehicle to get bread, while another one blocks the road and makes you stop. Once you get around that one, another one stops you. They basically continue to do this until you can finally break free and put some distance between them and you. Still, hand-feeding a yak is pretty cool.
The llamas have a different strategy. They’re fast. You can be driving along at 15-20mph, and they’ll be running right alongside your car…with their head inside the car, eating bread. Since you’re in a park, you can’t really go any faster than that, so they know they have you beat. If you’ve ever seen Disney’s Emperor’s New Groove, they pretty much nailed the llama personality.
A little further on we came across a zebra. I assumed that it would keep it’s distance (I don’t know why, I guess I think of them as more exotic than these other animals), but I was wrong. It was actually one of the friendliest animals there. It came right up, stuck it’s head in my window, and ate bread from everyone while I pet it. Yep, I got to pet a zebra!
Eventually we moved on to yet another enclosure with elk. The elk are pushy and stay in big groups. I literally had to physically push them out of our windows several times so we could move on. They weren’t mean, just pushy.
Next came the mule deer, the first animals we fed that didn’t shove their heads all the way in the car. Mostly because they had huge antlers that wouldn’t fit. As Christen was feeding one, she dropped a piece of bread right by the van. Immediately two of the deer started fighting over it. Doug thought that was pretty cool, so he tossed a piece out his side just to watch them fight. I think he’s got that on video somewhere…I’ll have to see if I can get it.
Lastly came the bison. I won’t lie, I was really excited at the prospect of feeding a bison. However, that didn’t go so well for me. I held up a piece of bread like I had for every other animal. All the other animals had reminded me very much of the goats we had growing up. They had extremely dexterous lips that they used to carefully take the food out of your hand. I expected the bison to the basically the same just bigger. Instead, as it’s huge head came into the window, completely filling it, it opened its mouth wide and out came a GIGANTIC tongue! It all happened really fast, but it wrapped that tongue around my whole hand and started pulling it into it’s mouth…and I squealed like a little girl! Yep, I squealed. Not the fake “pretending to squeal like a girl in some ironic fashion” kind of squeal either. I shrank back, practically laying in the center console of our rental minivan, and squealed. I eventually got a little of my wits back (although not my voice) and recorded video of the bison. If you make it through the whole article and the photos, you’ll get to hear me still freaking out in that high-pitched way, and watch the bison stick out it’s HUGE tongue.
When we attempted to move past the first couple bison so we could see some more of them, the bison didn’t want us to leave. Like most of the previous animals, it didn’t want to take it’s head out of the car. However, unlike the other animals, once we succeeded in getting it out it decided to ram our van! It hit the van several times, putting dents and fairly large scratches in the side. Luckily, it was a rental with full insurance so I didn’t care too much. Still, as we moved on another bison did something similar (albeit not quite as extensive) to the other side of the van as well.
On the way out, we stopped at a restroom to clean up. There was bread everywhere in the vehicle and all of us had animal spit up to our elbows. Still, it was a lot of fun and we’d certainly do it again.
A word of caution: The next day we were getting gas, and the attendant came out to say hello. Upon seeing the dents and scratches in the side of the van, she offhandedly remarked that she could tell we’d gone to see the bison. So if you’re ever in the area, you should go check it out…but take a rental (or at least an old beater).
If you made it through all of this, I guess you get a little bonus. This is me, sounding like a scared girl, trying to get video of the bison right after it grabbed my hand with it’s tongue and thoroughly freaked me out!