European Red Deer Cervus elaphus
I have a confession to make.
On the recent sojourn down to Austin to visit some friends, I left a couple of days early and planned to stop in a small town well south of Fort Wort. I wanted to take in a couple of the area attractions—the Dinosaur Valley State Park where you can see actual theropod and sauropod footprints embedded in the limestone and the Fossil Rim Wildlife Center where you can drive through 1800 acres and get up close and personal with fauna that don’t really belong there.
(You can see images of Glen Rose and the Dinosaur Valley State Park here. They are not really part of the confession.)
Ok, back to the story.
I arrived early at Fossil Rim—it wasn’t going to be busy on a weekday off-season, but I still wanted to be the first in and take my time going through the site. It’s a drive-through wildlife center. You get to drive with your windows down and see animals from around the world making their incongruous home in the northern part of Texas Hill Country. The people who run the place—the science side biologists and animal behaviorists—are famous for their work with rhinos and cheetahs in preserving the species and diversifying the bloodlines. The people handling the visitors are just ok, they seemed befuddled a bit at times, but thankfully once you pay your money and drive in through the first gate you don’t see many people at all.
You do have to listen to a long litany of things you can’t do before being allowed to proceed. It’s all common sense, but people generally are stupid and the good folk at the center don’t want to be constantly removing lifeless bodies from the horns and antlers of bothered animals. You can have your windows down, though there may be times you want to quickly raise them. You may not, however, under any circumstances, open your door, much less get out. Even if the ostrich has just snatched and made off with your favorite gimme cap, the one Uncle Rupert bought for you in Branson, Missouri and features a besequined image of Dolly Parton’s glandular amplitude on it. You start chasing that ostrich and you’re likely to get blindsided and impaled by a pissed off giant antelope of some sort.
About halfway through my drive I came up to a largish herd of Grant’s Zebras. There are no shortage of signs warning you not to feed the zebras as they tend to be a bit aggressive and have been known to bite the hand that feeds them. I was glad they were on the right side of my car as I was able to have a bit of protection. I rolled down the window on that side and was taking some shots of some individuals in the herd just a short distance away. I put the cam down on a little ledge on the passenger side that I made for when I’m on the road and turned back to the steering wheel to drive on to the next area.
I screamed like a little girl.
It changed mid-scream to a lower octave…I really bellowed in fear.
The European Red Deer pictured at the top of this post had silently come up to the driver side window. I had not heard a single sound, it was a stealthy approach. He had his face right inside the car, as far as his antlers would allow his snout and face in. Not a sound. No clicking of antlers on metal. His face filled my driver’s side space.
He didn’t even flinch.
It was like, “WTF man, I just want some food dude…shut up!”
He turned to leave, but not before giving me that look, “Whatev, bitch.”
My friend Deven, whose online avatar name is Tequila and Donuts, thinks I should do a video recreation of the screaming event for your enjoyment. No.
That’s it. The confession. I admit to nearly peeing my pants.
Now, here follows some images of a few of the other denizens of the wildlife park:
Southern White Rhino Ceratotherium simum simum
Yeah, that looks like an impaling horn alright. Make sure you indulge me and look at the details in a larger sized image found here. In the original size image at nearly 4,000 pixels wide, you can see the threads of keratin on his long horn. It is a large image, found here. God, I love this lens. It’s the estimable Nikkor pro AF-S VR Zoom-Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8G IF-ED. It sure makes me look like a photographer.
Grant’s Zebras Equus brutally
Reticulated or Somali Giraffe Giraffa camelopardalis reticulata
Ostrich Struthio camelus
Large version for feather details.
Emu Dromiceius novæhollandiæ
Large size to view the evil feathered dinosaur eyes.
Fallow Deer Dama dama
White-tailed deer Odocoileus virginianus texanus
European Red Deer Cervus elaphus
Roan Hippotragus equinus
Black Buck Antilope cervicapra
Blue Wildebeest Connochaetes taurinus
Gemsbok Oryx gazella
Mountain Bongo Tragelaphus eurycerus
Cheetah Acinonyx jubatus