As a kid traveling with my family we would stop at many gas stations and roadside venues as we trekked up and down the Coastal Highway. I am referring of course to U.S. Highway 17, a scenic stretch of pavement between Florida and Virginia. The interstate known today as I-95 was still under construction and so getting to Florida (a favorite destination) required driving 17 south and passing through many a small town. My sister and I were always fond of stops where live animals were on display. Monkeys, birds of all kinds, camels, and even elephants we’re roadside attractions that captivated our interest. Today as an adult I still remember those opportunities to have a monkey grab my finger while taking a peanut from my other hand.
The Lazy 5 Ranch is one of those roadside attractions on a much grander scale. Located between I-85 and 77 in Piedmont, North Carolina (near Salisbury), it features over 700 animals from around the world. Staying in our car we took the 3 ½ mile trail through the ranch. We rolled along at about 2 miles per hour within the pasturelands of the Lazy 5. Our trek took us through large wooded acres, open grasslands, and near large waterholes. No matter where we travelled we were surrounded by animals. Zebras, cattle of all kind, deer, antelope, little pot-bellied pigs, llama, emu and ostriches roamed freely very close to the car, or within a few hundred yards.
The car ahead of us had purchased buckets of feed, and with windows down, were forced to stop a lot as a host of the aforementioned animals pushed their heads into the car. The kids in that car were touching and petting each creature with abandon. It reminded us of an adventure we had in Custer State Park in South Dakota with a pack of wild donkeys. We remembered the wealth of flies, but also just how aggressive large animals can be, which bring us to our warnings.
- Under NC law, there is NO liability for an injury to or death of a participant in an agritourism activity.
- There are a number of inherent risks associated with participating in any agritourism activity. Don’t be stupid. Don’t take stupid risks.
- Always Wash Hands after contact with the animals. These animals roam free and as such are in contact with a host of germs. (I believe I mentioned flies earlier.)
- Supervise human-animal contact with children of all ages, and dumb adults in your company.
- Don’t eat your lunch in the car while also trying to feed these wild animals through the window. You will get extremely sick later on I promise.
- It is a HUGE safety hazard to allow any pets or service animals in a park like this. Don’t try to sneak your dog in. You are asking for trouble.
- Follow the rules as outlined by the facility so you don’t end up ruining the experience for everyone else.
The Lazy 5 Ranch also offered the traditional petting zoo, large playground, picnic area, some caged animals, gift shop, and a snack shack. They DO NOT accept debit or credit cards, so bring Cash. Adult tickets are $11.00, Children (2-11) $8.00. There are a host of other things $$$ wise to be aware of so check out the ranch’s website: www.lazy5ranch.com for details. Have Fun!