Safari West reopens with more than 1,000 animals, protections against coronavirus

Owen Weston, a six-yr-aged from Scotts Valley in Santa Cruz County, was thrilled by the sight of a handful of cheetahs Saturday in an Africa-like environment in the hills in the vicinity of Santa Rosa.

“Because they can run pretty quick,” he stated.

An incoming initially grader, Owen stated he had discovered the sleek, noticed felines hit 70 mph on a guided tour at Safari West, the four hundred-acre attraction that reopened with a hurry Saturday, ending the three-thirty day period shutdown aimed at curbing the coronavirus pandemic.

Owen, along with his mother and father, Trang and Scott Weston, and brother Arlo, 4, were amid 193 people on reopening working day at the facility that draws 79,000 people a yr and expenditures itself as the “closest you can come to Africa with no heading there.”

The spouse and children had yearned to go to Safari West for some time, but had to hold out right up until Arlo arrived at the minimum age for a tour with other attendees, Trang Weston stated. It as also the family’s initially huge undertaking and they were “excited to be out and about,” she stated.

“It was gorgeous,” she stated, describing the wilderness of trees, grassland and lakes, along with giraffes that accompanied their Jeep on component of the tour.

For co-house owners Peter and Nancy Lang, the reopening was also a welcome working day.

“This has not been a extended, amazing trip,” Peter Lang stated, noting the shutdown imposed a “big impact” on their business enterprise, which opened in 1993 in the oak-?studded Mayacamas foothills north of Santa Rosa.

Safari West was forced to furlough about a hundred and ten workers, or two-thirds of the wildlife preserve’s workers, which was fully staffed Saturday even with no a handful of employees who made a decision to hold out a bit in advance of returning,

There was pent-up need amid customers, Nancy Lang stated, as “the telephones just went crazy” when they began using reservations Monday.

On Saturday, the preserve was fully booked for vehicle excursions, dinners and overnight lodging in thirty tent-cabins, but attendance was intentionally curbed from the four hundred to 500 attendees it can accommodate on a weekend.

The Langs stated they are closely adhering to protocols suggested by county health officials, including obligatory masks, chopping restaurant capability from 300 down to ninety and serving only 45 at a time, and restricting ?12-passenger tour motor vehicles to 6 or 8 individuals with plastic shields among the rows.

Nancy Lang, a biologist, stated they are safeguarding some of the extra than 1,000 resident animals from an infection, exclusively the cheetahs and primates that are potentially susceptible to the coronavirus. Even the keepers don masks when they are close to those animals, she stated.

Tigers and lions at the Bronx Zoo in New York contracted COVID-19 in March and have recovered, Lang stated.

The “Sonoma Serengeti” at Safari West accommodates some 80 species of primates, carnivores, hoofed animals, birds and a handful of reptiles, as perfectly as rhinoceroses up to eight,000 lbs . and giraffes up to 18 ft tall.

Human visitation is by reservation only, every single working day but Christmas.

“I thought it was fantastic,” stated Madison Peatross, fifteen, who arrived around from Sacramento with her mom and dad, Jennifer and Scott Peatross, and brother, Ian. “The giraffes arrived right up to us. They were like genuinely tall.”

On their arrival, the preserve on Porter Creek Street “at initially appeared like Jurassic Park,” she stated.

Mike Vernon and his girlfriend, April Pedrani, who arrived around with the Peatrosses, stated it was their initially go to just after listening to about Safari West for several years.

“Zebras were working all around the location,” he stated, also noting the ostriches, cheetahs, water buffaloes, hyenas, flamingos and wildebeests.

The weather turned sunny and “the working day just received better as it went along,” he stated.

The Westons designed their go to an expedition, arriving Friday evening for the initially of two nights in a single of the ?canvas-walled tent cabins.

Equipped with electric blankets, the spacious two-bed cabin had a different bathroom and a patio overlooking the giraffe enclosure, Trang Weston stated.

She slept soundly amid the nocturnal phone calls from flamingos and lemurs and some monkey chatter.

Friday night’s evening meal was a feast with each and every plate piled with barbecued brisket and rooster, saffron rice, macaroni and cheese, sauteed vegetable and a inexperienced salad, with a brownie and vanilla ice cream for dessert.

Both equally family members stated the social distancing and other health safeguards were entire.

“We were pretty pleased to see our attendees come in,” Nancy Lang stated.

You can arrive at Employees Writer Guy Kovner at 707-521-5457 or [email protected] On Twitter @guykovner.