Florida Travel: At Lion Country Safari, Rhinos Have the Right of Way

An all-too-close encounter on safari

  When I decided to take a day trip to Lion Country Safari—the drive-through animal park 20 miles west of West Palm Beach—I invited my friend with the sturdiest car. “This isn’t dangerous, right?” he asked as we set off across the state. “Oh, no,” I said, waving a dismissive hand. But when we reached the park and I saw the sign posted out front that read, “Rhinoceroses have the right of way,” I wondered if my friend weren’t right to be concerned. We crept through the gates at a cautious 8 miles an hour, on the lookout for wild animals. In the first habitat, meant to simulate the South American pampas, a couple of giant tortoises munched placidly in the grass while a lone tapir stood amid a flock of brown pelicans. “See,” I said, “not dangerous at all.” But in the next section, we had our first run-in—with an impala, of all creatures. He stood higher than the car with horns that stretched another 3 feet from his crown. He had black eyes and nostrils that flared angrily as we inched past, only feet away. His herd of 20-odd females grazed in the distance, seemingly unconcerned by the trail of cars that passed. “Go slowly,” I said to my friend. “I want to get a good look at him.” The buck glared at us. I could see the long lashes above his liquid eyes, the ridges on his spiraling horns and the pointed angle of his hooves. “We’ve got to get o
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