I just had the most remarkable experience...I woke up staring at a giraffe. A special reader of West with Giraffes, zoologist and conservationist Rick Barongi, invited me to come visit his new Long Neck Manor. Rick, a former zoo director and designer of Disney's Animal Kingdom, has begun Phase One of his vision of having an experience much like Nairobi's Giraffe Manor right here in the states. Down a winding road out in the middle the hill country, yet only 5 minutes from charming, bustling Fredericksburg, Texas, Rick has brought 3 zoo-born giraffes and 3 zoo-born southern white rhinos to a 100 acre ranch and has opened the first phase of his dream of offering that kind of fun, conservation experience for those of us unable to travel around to the other side of the world. Right now, he's offering tours to meet the animals and learn all about the conservation efforts, and in my opinion, be blown away with what he's already done out in the middle of nowhere (but so close to a great little town full of fun itself). And if you have the wherewithal and/or desire you can spend the night in the barn's gorgeous, tall suite that puts you eye to eye with the giraffes the whole night. Frankly? I'm still on a giraffe high, and for those in love with rhinos, that was quite the fun, too.
Here's the website to enjoy even if you can't make it there, packed with Rick's bio that got him to Phase One of his dream, along with the LongNeck Promise and Mission, which outlines how the revenue and the donations are used, plus what a tour offers the lucky people who get to visit.
Dreaming is good. Dreaming about giraffes is better. Dreaming BIG about how to help save these and other flagship species is a marvel beyond words. Thanks, Rick.