Magazine article Sunset

Napa's Little Savanna

Magazine article Sunset

Napa's Little Savanna

Article excerpt

Wild animals roam the plains at Safari West, in the heart of the Wine Country

It's not every day that I wake up to the calls of hadada ibis, or to the sight of a giraffe peering at me through the trees. But that was how I started my day at Safari West, a wildlife preserve halfway between Santa Rosa and Calistoga. And that was just the beginning.

Founded in 1978 as a sanctuary for rare and endangered birds and mammals from all over the world, 400-acre Safari West is nothing like a zoo or drive-through animal park. Instead, it feels more like the Serengeti Plain: Antelope roam the hillsides, Watusi cattle butt horns, zebras shade themselves under oak trees, and rare birds like the Indian hornbill hold court in the treetops.

If all of this sounds far-fetched, that's because Peter Lang doesn't do things halfway. An incurable collector and experimenter, Lang first became enamored of the eland (an African antelope) in the mid-'70s. He bought a pair, then a whole herd. Today more than 400 mammals and birds roam the hilly, oak-shaded property that Lang purchased in 1989, when his menagerie outgrew its original Ventura home. …

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