Friday, May 31, 2013

Wildlife Safari in East Tennessee!

Well, it was a nice sunny day, not too warm either, and we decided to use another of our Groupon coupons.  It was one more opportunity for an ‘adventure’ at half price!  This time, it wasn’t about a restaurant either…


This is the front of the pamphlet for Circle G Ranch and its outdoor Safari Adventures…  Admission is only $9.00 per adult and $7.00 per child. With our coupon, we were admitted for only $9.00… Of course, once inside, we spent $10.00 for 3 large tubs or trays full of chunks of feed for the animals.
To start with, we love animals…and we had a great time at the Circle G Ranch!

My one complaint is that there isn’t a brochure that visitors can use to identify the animals… There is a list of the animals at the ranch on their website but even it isn’t matched with an animal’s photo.  Some of the animals are readily identified, but if you had to name the type of antelope or deer pictured above, would you have a clue? 
See if you could identify them from this list copied from Circle G’s website: Dromedary and Bactrian Camel; Water Buffalo; Zebra; Wallaby; Llama; Ostrich; Emu; Aoudad; Alpaca; Rhea; Sika Deer; Fallow Deer; Red Deer; Black Buck Antelope; Zebu cattle; African Crested Porcupine; Spur Thigh Tortoise; Hedgehogs; Angus Cattle; Scottish Highlander Cattle; Watusi Cattle; Standard Donkey; Pygmy Goats; Tennessee Fainting Goats; Pot Bellied Pigs; Jacob 4 Horned Sheep; Orange Winged Amazon Parrots; Turkey; Ducks; Guinea Fowl and; Chickens. 
The answer: They are female Black Buck Antelopes…
These large critters in the foreground are Water Buffalo.  The Zebra’s in the background are identified as Damara or Burchell’s Zebras, more commonly referred to as Plains Zebras.
One advantage for Circle G Range in not identifying the animals via a brochure is that it probably increases the number of people who abandon their personal vehicles and take advantage of Guided Safari Truck Tours.  The tours are only $15.00 per person and this includes admission, a bucket/tray of animal food and of course a tour guide to tell you what animals you’re looking at…

This is a drive-thru zoo or animal park.  The instructions are to either put your window all the way down...see above…or all the way up!  We chose to leave the windows down and we armed ourselves with 3 buckets/trays of feed.  This Alpaca is just one of many animals at Circle G Ranch that has learned about vehicles as a source of food!

These Red Deer resting in the boulders along the 3-mile drive were about the only animals that didn’t seem to care about our presence as a food source.  They must have had their fill for the morning…
Well…this is a hungry deer of some sort.  I couldn’t identify him.  His coat was sort of a dingy whitish color and he was hanging out by himself in the woods.  He wasn’t shy, that’s for sure…inserting his head into the car for some food.  I had to toss some food on the ground in order to convince him to remove his head from my window!
This Rhea, a South American cousin of the Ostrich, was also just a bit aggressive when it came to food!  I tried to put my window up but he was just too quick.  Again I ended up tossing a couple of chunks of the feed on the ground to divert this big bird so we could drive on.

The petting zoo had plenty of goats on hand…all begging for food!  These are just 3 of the many goats and sheep that we ended up feeding.  We would have run out of food in this area of Circle G Ranch, but another couple who were leaving handed us a half tray of left-over animal feed that they didn’t use…
FYI… You can see just how big the animal feed pellets were in my tray of food at the left of the photo.

We were both happy to see that Ostriches weren’t allowed to roam around with the other animals in the drive-thru part of the Ranch.  We have had a couple of negative experiences, (really a bit frightening), with Ostriches in other animal parks like this one… These birds are very big, not too bright and super aggressive when it comes to food.
Of course, while we were touring Circle G Ranch, there were a couple of groups of school kids touring the place.  They checked out all the animals in the petting/feeding part of the Ranch and then they went on the tour truck on the drive thru portion with a guide.  They all had some food…smaller pellets…to feed the animals with…

There were Pot Belly Pigs everywhere in the public walking area of Circle G Ranch.  This pair was chilling out in the parking area…while looking for handouts.  Some of these pigs were enormous.  There were a few baby Pot Belly pigs running around too!  Very cute!
This pony was glad to have a visitor.  He was alone…just waiting for a rider or some attention.  I saved a couple of those big food pellets for him.  I couldn’t find a price for the pony rides but 1-hour camel safaris are $60.00 per person for an hour ride.  Combo Llama and Camel Safari’s, (with lunch), are $125.00 per person.

We spotted a couple of Horses near the entrance to Circle G Ranch, along with this beast of mixed heritage.  This is a Zonkey…(aka. Zebonkey, Zebronkey, Zebrinny, Zebrula, Zebrass, Zedonk or Zeedonk) It is the result of breeding a Donkey with a Zebra.  One can also breed a Horse with a Zebra…and its offspring is called a Zorse. Note the striped ‘leggings’ on this Zonkey!

This camel attempted a smile for Laurie’s camera…or else he had gas!  This was the dominant camel in the herd… Any other camels attempting to horn in on this animal’s efforts to eat our offered snacks were rudely chased off.
I included this photo of the back of the Circle G Ranch’s pamphlet as it explained a little more about the Ranch and offered a few more glimpses of the ‘wildlife’ mooching food from visitors.
We made a couple of observations during our visit.  The restrooms are porta potties.  Other than tour guides and the gal at the ticket window, we didn’t see any staff around.  The operation seemed pretty much unsupervised…which was OK by us…but it might be a problem for the animals and some visitors.  Also, come prepared… There is no gift/snack shop on the premises, so come with water or something to drink.  While we were there, an Ice Cream Truck pulled up next to a building and parked…waiting for customers.
In summary, we had a great time!  The price…$9.00 per adult is a bargain if you really like to get up  close and personal with animals.  During the tourist season, Circle G Ranch is open 7 days a week from 10 AM to 5 PM.  The Ranch is located at 831 Thorngrove Pike in Strawberry Plains Tennessee.  Phone: 865-932-0070.  Their website is
Just click on any of the photos to get closer to the animals…
Thanks for stopping by and going on safari with us!
Take Care, Big Daddy Dave



  1. A safari in Tennessee! Incredible! I can't believe how many kinds of animals are in this park. We only have goats here in Sicily! In fact they come and graze in our neighborhood. I love the camel, he is so cute! Looks like he's really smiling. My daughter and I rode one when we lived in India many years ago, it was so much fun but a bit scary because they wabble when they walk. Have a nice weekend David!

  2. What lovely a safari always I wanted go to a safari!"!!
    I love all the pictures!!!
    Have a nice weekend.
    The flan tasty like dulce de leche more than apple really delicious!

  3. I'm amazed how close you can get to the animals, especially that hungry deer. We have deer in our yard quite often, but we've only seen babies up close. Now I know what they look like when they are eating our azaleas :)

    Was nice to see you and Laurie again last weekend. Hope you both have a lovely weekend and enjoyed the homemade lobster ravioli. I heard it's Laurie's favorite.

  4. I've never heard of this place and Madison would love it - we'll plan a trip soon. I suspect it may be the folks who were at the Tennessee A&I Fair.

  5. What a great way to spend the day! Thanks for sharing it with us.


  6. Dear Dave, This certainly was a nice way to spend a beautiful day. I bet you and Laurie had a great time. Blessings, Catherine