Where the Wild Things Are: Salinas

It’s hard to imagine an agricultural town like Salinas being home to well-known movie and television stars. But celebrities from George of the Jungle, Mighty Joe Young, and even the model for The Lion King have called Wild Things home.

Wild Things Animal Rentals, located at Vision Quest Ranch at 400 River Road, is home to more than 100 wild/exotic critters and is devoted to humanely training them for film, television and educational work.

I loved meeting Bengal tiger Kolar, one of the most photographed tigers in the world. You see him on many calendars and posters and can recognize him by the star-shaped markings over his eyes.

Staying overnight in a safari-type tent was a thrill. Mine was decorated “pachyderm” style. I dreamed of Africa as I listened to lions and tigers roar. In the morning a sweet elephant delivered two baskets: one contained bagels, cream cheese and pastries for me and the other held apples, oranges and carrots that I fed to her.

Daily one-hour tours are at 1:00 p.m., $10 for adults, $8 for kids. For an extra $5 you can hand-feed the elephants after the tour.

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