A little off the highway, in beautiful Mooresville, lie the Lazy 5 Ranch. It is a ranch with animals from all over the world and they let you drive through the property and visit them. I personally have never been through a drive thru safari or animal park so I was definitely intrigued, so intrigued that I didn’t even think about the fact that we will be driving through a wild animal park with a rental car. It didn’t even occur to me when I saw the gates and the “Beware” sign. It did hit home when I saw this guy running up to the car. Shhhhh…. don’t tell Enterprise!
SPOILER ALERT: We did not end up with any scratches, dents or dings, just a small amount of spit up from this over zealous Emu (below) that seemed to have an affliction for hubs or maybe it was his bucket of food:) P.S. Don’t be freaked out as the animals do come up to your car but for the most part they just walked along the side or take a peek in your windows looking for food. You can purchase a bucket of food when you pay after entering the park. They do have wagon rides for those of you who don’t want to drive or want a closer look…
There was a ten minute stand off with a llama..
We won. There were so many different types of species on the ranch. There was everything from zebras to giraffes.. The larger animals like the giraffe and Rhino were in their own areas that were fenced. We saw some rams as well, like this one
The trail is about 3 1/2 miles long and we slowly wound our way through. Little man loved it! He was amazed that all the animals that we only look at in books were right there outside his window. Hubs and I had to laugh when we told him to look at the piggie and he proclaimed “That’s not a pig mom (insert attitude here) that’s an armadillo”. We saw tons of different animals. In fact, there are over 750 different species of animals from six continents on the ranch.
My favorite were these guys. They were so sweet but skiddish and would just get close enough to look at you..
After winding through the park, we headed back to the entrance and stopped by the petting zoo portion of the ranch. There we were able to see many different birds, goats, even a couple camels and these really cool ring tailed lemurs (like the one from Kung Fu Penguins – his words not mine:)
He really loved the camels!
We visited the gift shop and bought little man a souvenir from our travels with the money that my grandmothers best friend gave us to buy him something on our trip. He picked out a stuffed camel and has been attached to it ever since. We also bought a guide book of the ranch and all of the animals in it. We took some time to enjoy the beautiful grounds a little…
At the ranch, they also have a nice covered grove area where you can have a picnic lunch and a little snack shop, too. So you can really make a day out of the whole experience. It is great for little ones and adults of all ages. We really enjoyed ourselves. It was a nice break to our busy days of travel and a chance to see things we haven’t before. I think that this is a great attraction to visit at any age and I really thought that it was reasonably priced for families, especially since this park is NOT federally or state funded. A family of four can enjoy a day of fun for under $30.
- BRING CASH! They do not take credit or debit cards
- For $3 you can buy a book with pictures of the animals and describes what they are, where they are from, if they are endangered. We bought it on our way out, however, it would have been great to have during the drive thru portion as we could have told little man what the animals really were instead of guessing at names. So if they aren’t for sale where you buy your tickets, walk into the gift shop and it’s right at the register:)
- Bring a lunch and make it a picnic.
- Read the instructions! (One of the rules is not to feed your children to the animals no matter how bad they are – love a sense of humor) Make sure that you are being safe for yourself and the animals too. Some of these animals are endangered, so you wouldn’t want to hurt them.
- Take the wagon ride! How cool is it that you get to go on a wagon through the park and feed the animals. All of my pictures were taken from behind glass but I would have loved to photograph them without that barrier.
- Don’t show up right before close. Plan for a couple hours (at least) between the drive, eating lunch, and walking around the petting zoo to make the most from your experience.
- Make it educational. This is a great trip to teach your kids about wildlife and animals. Great for the homeschooling crowd, too!
Here is some really cool info on the park and it’s owner:
“The purpose of the Lazy 5 Ranch is to educate while entertaining as well as provide an excellent environment for reproducing some of God’s most unique creatures and helping the recovery of several endangered species including the Grevy Zebra, Scimitar Horned Oryx and Ring-tailed Lemur.”
“The Lazy 5 Ranch is privately owned and operated by Henry Hampton with no federal or statefunding. Henry Hampton has been raising exotic animals for over 35 years and is known nationwide for his handling of exotic animals.”
So not only are trying to recover endangered species through the ranch, but they do it with no government funding.. I love this place even more. Truth is I always get sad at zoos with the animals living in tiny cages. Here they live on a big ranch and have room to roam around.
Next time you are near Mooresville, NC stop in. It’s less than an hour from Charlotte and just a few miles off the main highway.
**Lazy 5 Ranch provided us with tickets and a bucket of food and Charlotte Regional Visitors Authority coordinated the trip for me. I was not compensated and all opinions are my own, hubs and little mans.