Over the past few months, as I’ve traveled down Thorngrove Pike, I have noticed a place called Circle G Ranch. What caught my eye as I zoomed past were the zebras and emu that have been out in their field. Of course, my kids have gone crazy with glee each time as well. They get excited over seeing lady bugs–imagine how they react when spotting a zebra.
Out in front of the ranch is a sign advertising the hours of operation with the website www.ridecamels.com listed. I found out that it is a drive through zoo and much more with one-hour camel safaris and other fun activities. So Kristy and I thought that we should take the kids.
We did that this afternoon and I am glad to say we had a fantastic time.
When we turned down the gravel driveway, I wasn’t sure what to expect. After all, the only animals we could see were a few zebras and some emu. We drove up to a little building and spoke with Christy Michael who co-owns the place with her husband Matt. She gave us the rules (no getting out of your vehicle, don’t feed the donkeys, that type of thing) and we picked up some feed in little plactic tubs and began our adventure.
As soon as we drove through the gate, several emu (sort of like small ostriches) made their way toward us. I held a tub of feed out and they began to feast. It was quite amusing seeing/hearing my children laugh and seeing the crazed look in the emu’s eyes. They really are beautiful creatures, though somewhat crosseyed at times.
Then the zebras began approaching. While they did not come close enough to eat from the tubs, we did toss some their way that they ate. I’ve never seen zebras so up close before.
As we drove on across their 3 miles of gravelled road we were able to get up close and personal with ostriches, pigs, donkeys, goats, bufallo, deer, antelope, camels, and several other animals whose names I don’t know.
After the drive, we spoke with Christy and Matt. I was impressed by their dedication to their animals and their desire to share their passion with others. They are also very busy people. In addition to their ranch, they also run the camel rides at the Knoxville Zoo. Also, many of their animals are featured in live nativity scenes at 3 Dixie Stampede locations (Pigeon Forge, Branson, MO, and Myrtle Beach) as well as the Living Christmas Tree event that Sevier Heights Baptist Church holds at the Thompson Boling Arena.
The kids and I then enjoyed riding one of their camels named Raider. I think I was more scared than the kids were.
If you live in or around Knox County and are looking for an inexpensive adventure close to home, check out Circle G Ranch. Find out more about them at their website www.ridecamels.com or call 865-932-0070.