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Bandon, Oregon Game Park Safari: Lions, and Tigers, and Bears! Oh My!

Travel: Bandon, Oregon

When my mother-in-law suggested taking my nieces to the “Deer Park,” I started a mental list of reasons why I should stay home.  I’m pregnant.  I’m sleepy.  This could be really boring.  “I’ve been to a deer park,” I mumbled under my breath to Seth, “It was called my bus ride to school through the Pennsylvania countryside.”  However, my choices for afternoon activities were limited.  The boys were off to play another round of golf at Bandon Dunes and there isn’t much to do by yourself when your house is in the middle of the woods.  So we have to spend our afternoon petting Bambi, I reasoned.  It could be worse.

Well, it turns out this park used to be the Deer Park.  It is now the Game Park Safari.  It’s no San Diego Zoo or Wild Animal Park; but, I’ve never been able to pet a baby tiger and leopard at the SD Zoo, so there.  I’ve also never had the fear of God put in me at the SD Zoo either.  You’ll see why as you read below.

This place may be “America’s Largest Wild Animal Petting Park;” nevertheless, it’s actually pretty small.  And as far as petting, well, it’s kind of like Zoomars because you get to pet a lot of these little guys.

This llama quickly became my favorite because he reminded me of someone who was all the way back in San Diego…probably sleeping on my bed.

Right about then, they announced that the baby tiger was coming out for pets.  Oh, this place just upped it’s game – wild game!

Awwweeee.  Tell me this Bengal tiger cub doesn’t melt your heart:

My what big ears you have.

The better to hunt you with.

My, what big paws you have.

The better to run you down and slash off your face with.

Okay, that’s not really what this little guy said.  But, lest we forget, little guys turn into big guys.  (They are not  the same animal, but you get the idea).

As we walked through the Park, we came across more cute vegetarians.  The lesson here?  If you hog the food, everyone will step on you to get to the stash of hay.

I wondered why this cute little – I have no idea what you are – guy was behind a fence.  I figured it was probably to protect him from us.

All of a sudden that chicken wire did NOT seem like enough to protect the animals from their human visitors or us from them! The fence looked a lot higher to Kaylie and Riley, but my mother-in-law guessed it to be no more than 6 feet.

“Don’t bears climb trees?” she asked.

“Don’t they eat human?”  I responded.

Always pragmatic, Lauren reasoned that the measly 3 wires you see there are electric.

The Brown Bear paced back and forth inches from the wire.  I felt like the game keeper from Jurassic Park had just informed us that the Raptors were testing the fences.  You know, right before T-Rex breaks through a down portion of the fence and eats the lawyer.  Good thing Seth wasn’t with us!

This beauty of an African Spotted Leopard cub  was a good distraction.

I mean, he’s leashed.  Perfectly okay since he’s not hungry for human...yet.

Kaylie and Riley were more intimidated by the deer and billy goats.

Riley: One day when you grow up and think you’re all bad ass, I’m going to show you this series of photos.  Your sis is there feeding the animals.  I know, she’s 2.5 years older than you, but you’re almost as tall as her.

You don’t even take the opportunity to pet the baby goat.  This is after you pet the leopard that could eat you for lunch.  But, these guys aren’t leashed and they aren’t shy eaters.

Then the goat with big horns shows up and you are outta there.

Grandma has been keeping an eye on you both this whole time.  She calls Kay over, but you?  Oh, you are already making a run for it.

There you go, feeding the animals and staying very close to grandma.

This is my favorite photo of the day.  I think it may have been the highlight for this old burro, too.

Now, that’s a petting zoo!  I highly recommend it as a fun outing for anyone taking kids on their golf trip to Bandon Dunes.  Better go before those bears escape and turn this place into a petting and feeding zoo.  And I don’t mean veggie billy goat feed.

Thanks for taking us on a wild adventure, Lauren!

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August 17, 2011

Alex - No worries with the bears. They recognize a fellow Bruin. ;-)

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