Deer friends await at the Wildlife Park in Tripsdrill, Germany
If you arrive before the horde, the deer will greet you like friendly neighborhood pooches.
At the Wildlife Park in Tripsdrill, Germany, there are about 40 types of animals. There are caged wolves, lynx and bears, whose daily feedings are a top attraction.
There also is an impressive collection of birds of prey. During a daily demonstration, bald eagles, hawks and falcons, under the command of the park falconer, swoop through a crowd of bedazzled onlookers.
But for me, the best part of the Wildlife Park, about 25 miles north of Stuttgart, are the packs of unassuming deer. They roam free inside the wooded grounds. Some are a little wary at first of the passing people. Others are eager to be petted from the get-go.
And when you are among the first visitors, they can’t get enough of you, at least if you’ve entered the grounds with a bag of treats that can be purchased for two euros at the entrance. The deer will gobble the pellets right out of your hand, their moist nostrils mashed into your palm.
For kids, the chance to get up close with the deer — and the more annoying little goats thrown into the mix — is a thrill.
On our first visit to the park, a frigid February day, we were early and practically alone. That meant the deer were hungry and eager to eat. On a visit a few weeks later, we were late and the deer had had their fill, but they were still friendly.
It’s important to time the visit according to the feeding schedules of the larger animals. The public feedings are at 2:30 p.m. every day except Friday, when none are scheduled. The lynx tear into their dead chickens, carefully plucking the feathers with their teeth. The cats then extract the innards with surgical precision. The wolves, meanwhile, just tear away at their meat.
The bears are playful, catching veggies tossed to them and shoveling them into their mouths. Except for the avocados, which one bear pulled apart and pitted before swallowing.
The flight demonstrations, also a must see, are at 11:30 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. daily.
In addition to the Wildlife Park, there is a connected amusement park that is a popular destination in the summer. There also are tree houses that can be rented for overnight stays.
But the wild park is worth a visit on its own.
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DIRECTIONS: From Stuttgart, head north on the A81 in the direction of Heilbronn. There are many twists and turns, so consult a maps app or plug Park-Erlebnispark Tripsdrill, 74389 Cleebronn/Tripsdrill into navigation systems.
TIMES: Daily, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.
COSTS: Adults and children 12 and up, 11 euros, children between 4 and 11, 7.50 euros. Free for toddlers and infants.
FOOD: There is a small restaurant and cafe on site and a picnic area if you pack your own.