One-Tank Getaways – Safari trip closer than you think

Nine-hundred acres and face-to-face encounters with reticulated giraffe, Bactrian camels, Grant’s zebra, East African Crowned Crane, Scimitar horned oryx and other beasts of the wild are less than two hours away.

The Global Wildlife Center in Folsom is Louisiana’s little Africa. It opened in 1991, and is the only place in Louisiana where visitors can get eye to eye with giraffes, feel the wooly fur of bison or wiggle a camel’s hump.

The Northshore refuge is home to more than 4,000 exotic and endangered animals. Guests get up close and personal via a standard wagon tour. Or you can take a ride in a private Pinzgauer for a more intimate visit. The 4-by-4 seats nine, and is able to navigate paths the safari wagons can’t – making it ideal for safari photos.

Informed tour guides will keep you educated throughout the trip with insights on the animals that populate the Global Wildlife Center. For instance, the gorgeous Pere David Deer – or Father David Deer – was saved from extinction when the priest hid them in a secret Emperor’s Reserve in China during the late 1800s. •