Last updated: 03:00 AM ET, Wed July 08 2015

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  • Rosalind Cummings-Yeates | July 8, 2015 3:00 AM ET

    A Tennessee Safari

    A Tennessee Safari

    All photos by Rosalind Cummings-Yeates

    Even though barbecue qualifies as the official Tennessee state dish, visitors can view lots of wildlife besides pigs in the Big Bend state. Whether you're hiking the Smokey Mountains or strolling around the outskirts of Nashville or Memphis, you're likely to spot bobcats, coyotes, raccoons, and deer. But if you want to get face to face with say, an ostrich, you'll have to head to Alamo, Tennessee for an animal experience like no other.

    Just an hour-and-a-half outside of Memphis, Tennessee Safari Park boasts more than 1,000 different animals, many of them endangered species. When I entered the green pastures of the park, I expected to see deer and maybe some exotic cattle. No way did I expect to have an ostrich looking me in the eye, trying to get at the bread I was tossing out of the open van. He eagerly nipped my fingers as he swiped the bread out of my hand. I kept my hands on my lap for the rest of the adventure, but that didn't stop the animals from coming close.

    Tennessee Safari Park boasts 3.5 miles of land filled with roaming wildlife. Cars and vans slowly drive through the park as the animals frolic all around. It's hard to remember you're in Tennessee when emus and giraffes are in your face, which is part of the fun. The family-owned park started as a conservation effort for endangered species and grew into a drive through safari, petting zoo, and conservation program.

    During the two hours I spent at the park, I spotted familiar animals like camels, kangaroos and zebras but the highlight was seeing species I had never seen before. I chased several peacocks, trying to get a shot of their lovely fan of feathers but I almost dropped my camera when I saw a blazing white peacock fluffing its feathers, just waiting to be noticed.

    I was also fascinated by a group of buffalo sunning themselves, but was amazed at the sight of a white water buffalo, sprawled out in the middle of the gathering. I gazed at endangered antelope, Sika deer, lemurs, and a bearded pig. It was, by far, the most exotic animal collection I had ever been so close to.

    After the drive through safari, the petting zoo seems a bit tame but you can feed giraffes, goats, and llamas, plus view reptiles, amphibians, and birds in the habitat area of the walk through zoo. Tennessee Safari Park is a great adventure for all ages; just watch your fingers with the ostriches.

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Rosalind Cummings-Yeates Far-Sighted Field Notes

Rosalind Cummings-Yeates Rosalind Cummings-Yeates is a journalist, author and blogger who specializes in travel and culture topics. She loves guiding readers through the richness of various cultures and discovering the essence of a destination. Her travel and culture blog, Farsighted Fly Girl, offers travel insights through the music, food, art and history of various countries and cultures. Join her on the journey at www.Rosalindcummingsyeates.
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