Sometimes the exotic is right there in your own backyard, relatively speaking, and you don't have to circle the globe to find it. In some cases, you don't even have to get on an airplane.


The main reason I enjoy visiting zoos is to get an up close and personal look--reasonably speaking, of course--at animals I'd never get to see, otherwise. One day in 2014, I decided I had to see some gorillas. So off we went to the Louisville Zoo.

If you ARE interested in seeing gorillas, you'll have to check out a zoo, but if you want the experience of a safari, you should take a drive down to Clarksburg, Tennessee. It's about 3.5 hours from Owensboro, give or take, and it is the home of the Southland Safari.


Personally, I'm all over this. I've just learned of its existence and it hits right where I live. In fact, it's not FAR from where I live.


Now, I said that you wouldn't see any gorillas, but a much SMALLER primate HAS roamed the grounds of Southland Safari, which is run by Chris Gurley and his wife Tosha.

They have three kids, but near the beginning of their relationship, they also raised a Blackcap Capuchin monkey they named Jack. They've been collecting animals ever since, and now they maintain a fascinating resort in western Tennessee that doesn't just offer exotic wildlife photo ops, but it is also a place where you can spend a few days and decompress in a unique setting, thanks to the availability of cabins and adventure packages.


So if you want to chill out with some zebras, Asian otters, wallabies, wildebeests, buffalo, and a host of other creatures you're not likely to see when you look out your back window, then maybe it's time to take a drive to Clarksburg, Tennessee and Southland Safari, quite literally, get back to nature.

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