Wildside Tour

For our second excursion of the day, we were scheduled for the late afternoon Wildside Tour. While the Open Air tour provides great access to the animals, the Wildside Tour is truly an up close and personal experience. The route for both tours is basically the same, but the Wildside Tour is in a much more mobile vehicle so there are some off-trail detours that allowed us to really get close to some of the animals. Another difference is that the Open Air Tour attempts to point out all the animals in the park while the Wildside tour focuses more attention on the ones that are more approachable. Pairing these two tours made for a great day of critter interaction. At 3:00 we walked back to the gift shop/dining building for out Wildside tour. We were a bit concerned that the tour may get canceled if there was no one else signed-up. Fortunately there was another couple on the trip; they were visiting from Michigan to see The Wilds and the Columbus zoo. Chris was our guide for the tour. He is one of the very few animal handlers at The Wilds. He said there are only 10 total full-time handlers for the 600 animals on site. Again the short story is that this was an excellent tour and Chris was a very able guide. He stated that he started this tour about 10 years ago and that there are only two other employees who he trusts to be Wildside guides. This tour covers the same ground as the Open air tour, except that there are off road opportunities with several up-close encounters with the animals and a bit more detail. I think the Open Air tour tries to provide an overview of the park and show all the animals while the Wildside Tour focuses more on the animals that will allow closer contact. Here are some of the highlights: • We spotted a white-tailed deer buck on the outside of the fence as we were starting the tour. • We went off-road almost immediately to get a close look at the Persian Onagers that were hanging out near one of the many ponds. On the way down the hill toward pond I spotted a large bird in a tree in the pond. I initially thought it was a Bald Eagle but upon further review of the long-range photos it was determined to be an Osprey. • Our second off-road excursion was to visit with the Indian one-horned rhinos, especially mamma Sonja and her baby Asheesh. We got to fed them apples and sweet potatoes which gave us a true up-close experience. Their shin is very thick and rough. • Next we went over to visit the camels, and got to pet a few of them to see how thick and coarse their coats are. The big male, Gobi, was a real sweetheart. Sonja and Asheesh ended up wandering over to the area as well. A little later an Open Air Tour bus rolled in, so Chris herded the rhinos and camels down to the road so the folks on the bus could get a better look. • Chris told us that the Przewalski’s Wild Horse was the only horse that was never domesticated even though some of the best known horse cultures tried. • The best part of the tour was visiting with Tuffy the giraffe. He is a true gentle giant. We fed you lettuce, and if we were not paying attention, he would just steal the lettuce right out of the truck. Unlike at the San Diego Wild Animal Park, we were allowed to pet Tuffy; he did not mind at all. • On our return to the carnivore area, we did get to see the African Painted Dogs. Chris gave us a little more detail on why they spayed the alpha female. Turns out that in a pack, only the alpha female will breed, but the alpha at The Wilds was unable to have pups, but since she is the alpha the male will not breed with the other female. So the theory is that if the current alpha is spayed, then the other female may have a chance to be the “top dog” so that the breeding program can resume. • There was a second white-tailed deer buck just off the road as we were returning from the carnivore area (he better watch which fences he crosses with the cats and dogs just up the road!). • OK, Ostriches are just plain dumb. When we came upon them, there was a tour bus there already and one of the female birds was pecking at the bolts on the side of the bus (ooooh, shiny!). Chris indicated that their brains are smaller than their eye (granted they have a big eye but that still makes for a little brain). We later had the birds all around our truck and had to be careful not to get pecked. I did get pecked in the back by the male, but it was no big deal. The bigger issue was to protect the cameras. • Chris told us that the Scimitar Oryx are extinct in the wild and there are several other species at the Wilds that are expected to be extinct in the wild within 3 to 10 years. That is just sad. The common causes are loss of habitat, poaching and other general stupidity by the human race. • We spent a fair amount of time with the White Rhinos. Chris relayed the story of how the rhinos are somewhat missed named when the original Dutch (I think) naming was due to the rhinos wide lip but this was mistranslated into “white” over time. These big animals are not expected to be around in the wild much longer either, in large part due to poaching for their horns. C’mon people, that horn is made of keratin, the same stuff that makes up hair and fingernails….not medicinal value there at all. I is just sad. • We drove through a good size herd of bison that included a few calves including one frolicking in a puddle. This little guy was only a few days old. • Towards the end of the tour we got some close views of several of the antelope and the Grevy’s Zebra. The Grevy’s Zebra is the largest of the zebra species and has the widest stripes. It is also the most endangered of the zebras. We were back at the gift shop building at 6:00 and after thanking Chris for a wonderful tour we headed straight to dinner. Note that I did not start the track right away on this tour (I simply forgot). But the start and end point for the Wildside tour is at the same location.

Offroading

Ohio, United States
OhioHick photo
time : Sep 7, 2015 3:32 PM
duration : 2h 45m 39s
distance : 9.8 mi
total_ascent : 653 ft
highest_point : 1079 ft
avg_speed : 3.5 mi/h
user_id : OhioHick
user_firstname : Allen
user_lastname : Arrington
For our second excursion of the day, we were scheduled for the late afternoon Wildside Tour. While the Open Air tour provides great access to the animals, the Wildside Tour is truly an up close and personal experience. The route for both tours is basically the same, but the Wildside Tour is in a much more mobile vehicle so there are some off-trail detours that allowed us to really get close to some of the animals. Another difference is that the Open Air Tour attempts to point out all the animals in the park while the Wildside tour focuses more attention on the ones that are more approachable. Pairing these two tours made for a great day of critter interaction. At 3:00 we walked back to the gift shop/dining building for out Wildside tour. We were a bit concerned that the tour may get canceled if there was no one else signed-up. Fortunately there was another couple on the trip; they were visiting from Michigan to see The Wilds and the Columbus zoo. Chris was our guide for the tour. He is one of the very few animal handlers at The Wilds. He said there are only 10 total full-time handlers for the 600 animals on site. Again the short story is that this was an excellent tour and Chris was a very able guide. He stated that he started this tour about 10 years ago and that there are only two other employees who he trusts to be Wildside guides. This tour covers the same ground as the Open air tour, except that there are off road opportunities with several up-close encounters with the animals and a bit more detail. I think the Open Air tour tries to provide an overview of the park and show all the animals while the Wildside Tour focuses more on the animals that will allow closer contact. Here are some of the highlights: • We spotted a white-tailed deer buck on the outside of the fence as we were starting the tour. • We went off-road almost immediately to get a close look at the Persian Onagers that were hanging out near one of the many ponds. On the way down the hill toward pond I spotted a large bird in a tree in the pond. I initially thought it was a Bald Eagle but upon further review of the long-range photos it was determined to be an Osprey. • Our second off-road excursion was to visit with the Indian one-horned rhinos, especially mamma Sonja and her baby Asheesh. We got to fed them apples and sweet potatoes which gave us a true up-close experience. Their shin is very thick and rough. • Next we went over to visit the camels, and got to pet a few of them to see how thick and coarse their coats are. The big male, Gobi, was a real sweetheart. Sonja and Asheesh ended up wandering over to the area as well. A little later an Open Air Tour bus rolled in, so Chris herded the rhinos and camels down to the road so the folks on the bus could get a better look. • Chris told us that the Przewalski’s Wild Horse was the only horse that was never domesticated even though some of the best known horse cultures tried. • The best part of the tour was visiting with Tuffy the giraffe. He is a true gentle giant. We fed you lettuce, and if we were not paying attention, he would just steal the lettuce right out of the truck. Unlike at the San Diego Wild Animal Park, we were allowed to pet Tuffy; he did not mind at all. • On our return to the carnivore area, we did get to see the African Painted Dogs. Chris gave us a little more detail on why they spayed the alpha female. Turns out that in a pack, only the alpha female will breed, but the alpha at The Wilds was unable to have pups, but since she is the alpha the male will not breed with the other female. So the theory is that if the current alpha is spayed, then the other female may have a chance to be the “top dog” so that the breeding program can resume. • There was a second white-tailed deer buck just off the road as we were returning from the carnivore area (he better watch which fences he crosses with the cats and dogs just up the road!). • OK, Ostriches are just plain dumb. When we came upon them, there was a tour bus there already and one of the female birds was pecking at the bolts on the side of the bus (ooooh, shiny!). Chris indicated that their brains are smaller than their eye (granted they have a big eye but that still makes for a little brain). We later had the birds all around our truck and had to be careful not to get pecked. I did get pecked in the back by the male, but it was no big deal. The bigger issue was to protect the cameras. • Chris told us that the Scimitar Oryx are extinct in the wild and there are several other species at the Wilds that are expected to be extinct in the wild within 3 to 10 years. That is just sad. The common causes are loss of habitat, poaching and other general stupidity by the human race. • We spent a fair amount of time with the White Rhinos. Chris relayed the story of how the rhinos are somewhat missed named when the original Dutch (I think) naming was due to the rhinos wide lip but this was mistranslated into “white” over time. These big animals are not expected to be around in the wild much longer either, in large part due to poaching for their horns. C’mon people, that horn is made of keratin, the same stuff that makes up hair and fingernails….not medicinal value there at all. I is just sad. • We drove through a good size herd of bison that included a few calves including one frolicking in a puddle. This little guy was only a few days old. • Towards the end of the tour we got some close views of several of the antelope and the Grevy’s Zebra. The Grevy’s Zebra is the largest of the zebra species and has the widest stripes. It is also the most endangered of the zebras. We were back at the gift shop building at 6:00 and after thanking Chris for a wonderful tour we headed straight to dinner. Note that I did not start the track right away on this tour (I simply forgot). But the start and end point for the Wildside tour is at the same location.
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