Zoo Review - Get Close to Exotic Animals at San Diego Zoo Safari Park

More on PawNation: antelopes, elephants, giraffes, lions, safaris, san diego zoo safari park, zoo review, ZooReview

San Diego zoo giraffeHelena Sung

Have you ever felt a giraffe's tongue? You may be surprised to learn that it's scratchy just like a cat's (though much larger).

The San Diego Zoo Safari Park (not to be confused with the San Diego Zoo located 35 miles away) is one of the only places I know of where visitors can hand-feed giraffes and rhinos. Situated on 1,800 sprawling acres, the Safari Park was designed to mimic the African savannah and Asian plains that are the natural habitats for the thousands of wild animals and endangered species that call the park home.

On a hot, sunny Saturday afternoon, I climbed into the back of a flatbed truck to embark on a Photo Caravan Tour of the Safari Park. Though pricey ($90 to $150 per person), the tour is one of the best ways to experience the San Diego Zoo Safari Park, and the only way you'll get the opportunity to feed giraffes and rhinos.

I sat in the back of the truck with a wildlife guide as the truck rumbled along a dirt road. We passed by Lion Camp, where a large lion lounged atop a broken-down, white Range Rover that was part of the exhibit. In the distance, gazelles, tigers , cheetahs and elephants roamed the open fields. The truck passed through a set of high, metal gates and the ride got bumpier. We were venturing into the open terrain that housed the truly exotic creatures rarely seen at zoos.

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