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Graystone Ranch, Hephzibah GA

Discussion in 'Zoo Trips (Man Made Habitats)' started by JadeWilliamson, Oct 21, 2013.

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    DO NOT GO TO GRAYSTONE RANCH. I'll try to keep this as objective as possible, but being an animal enthusiast I find it hard not to make this an angry review. Let me start by urging the reader to bear in mind that they advertise this as a rescue facility.

    My girlfriend and I visited Graystone Ranch in Hephzibah Georgia yesterday for a haunted hayride. The hayride was pretty great. The ranch is deep in the woods, so it was plenty dark and it was overall a great setting to be scared. The hayride consisted of about a mile of flashing lights, elaborate costumes complete with shotgun and chainsaw, an undead chef, and the creepy little girls who lived on the ranch dressed as creepy little girls who lived on a ranch. Like I said, it was pretty great.

    The first thought that occurred to me that night after I saw what we were about to go through was "Man, I really wish they put as much enthusiasm into the care of their animals and as they did this hayride."

    We were at the park for a few hours before nightfall, which is when the hayride started. It gave us enough time to see all the animals they had.

    One fenced enclosure housed a number of horses, llamas, alpacas, mules, and an ostrich. The ostrich was pretty cool. I have no idea how one should keep an ostrich in captivity but they all had about an acre dedicated to that group and to a non-ostrich-captive-care-elitist's naked eye it seemed pretty okay.

    Across the way from that was the "petting zoo." Every petting zoo I've ever been to included petting animals. This enclosure contained a number of billy goats, a handful of sheep, a turkey, and two or three neck-tall steer. There was no way to actually pet them because the animals seemed like they were starving, and were climbing on one another to get to the three-year-old Goldfish they sold us for $8 (this was sold with three packs of Ritz Crackerfuls and some homemade "cookies" as their "Premier Feeding Package"). There was no other food in sight, and as part of the animal tour, the guide (a roughly fifteen-year-old boy, a volunteer) said to my girlfriend something like "I'm glad you're brave enough to hand feed them. It seems like nobody buys the food these days so they don't get to eat much." Really?

    They also had an exhibit that housed animals native to Georgia. This consisted of a 20' x 3' x 3' steel enclosure housing a gray fox, and one about twice that size for two raccoons (one was amelanstic, or albino, which was pretty cool to see). Tourists could feed these animals by dropping food into a PVC pipe rigged to deliver it straight to their cages. However, the food fell straight through the cage to the ground out of reach for the animals. The guide joked that there was more on the ground than the animals actually received, but it was painfully true.

    Have you seen the movie Two Brothers? It's about two tigers that I assume are brothers. Haven't seen it. However I have seen one of the tigers in person. Somehow, the godawful owners of Graystone Ranch pulled some strings and when the two tigers from that movie had nowhere to go, they went to Graystone Ranch. I would like to remind the reader that while it looks great on paper for a rescue and conservation facility to take in a Siberian tiger with no other option, it's only great in practice if the tiger is taken care of. Tigers are big cats, as we know. Little cats need exercise. While I didn't quite do my science fair project on it, I assume exponentially bigger cats need exponentially more exercise. For a 500 lb. Siberian tiger, exercise is a thing of the past if you live in a 30' x 8' x 8' cage. I've been to the zoo. That's how you take care of a tiger: they need trees to climb and grass to hide in, and enough space to at least be able to make a short jog.
    The care isn't even the worst part. I would imagine a tiger that was in a movie would be tame enough. This tiger was so extremely stressed out by the dozen people in our animal tour group that it was letting out a ferocious roar the likes of which I'd never before heard. He backed himself into his corner as far back as he could squeeze and roared and scratched at us. This isn't because we were teasing him; this is because he probably gets absolutely no attention. The guide said he gets fed 65 lbs. of meat per day. I will stay objective and not tell you what I think about that.

    The part of our tour that hit my most sensitive part was the reptile room. This was essentially a shack not large enough for our group to all stand in together. I admit that as an exotic pet enthustiast I was impressed with the tanks. It was a 7' tall shelving unit with maybe 15-20 tanks all built into it. I want one! In this they had about five or six juenile G rosea, some corn snakes, a legless lizard, some other lizards I couldn't identify, and a salamander. They tank behind us had an extremely large ball python. None of these tanks had any sort of heat lamps (they claimed to have a heater, but when we drove by to leave that night the door was open and it was about 55-60F). Next to the python, in a five-gallon tank, was a Theraphosa stirmi, roughly 7". I stared in disbelief. It was kept on aquarium rocks with no water dish and an open screen top. This was the moment when I started reconsidering the integrity of their animal husbandry. The guide poked him from behind with a stick to get him to move. I very strongly considered "rescuing" that animal, but somehow I talked myself out of it. It's a rescue facility, right? Isn't that what it's all about?

    The animal tour was only about twenty minutes of our time there. The entire place was a dump and I promise you if they got a surprise visit from the state they would be shut down in a heartbeat. I will be posting reviews on every website I can find, and you bet your shiny new car I'll be in touch with the city, the county, the state, whoever I have to to shut that place down.
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  2. The Snark

    The Snark هرج و مرج مهندس Old Timer

    One way you could bring down the wrath of a goddess upon them. Take careful note of the conditions of the place relative to the people having to work there. Safety things like guard rails etc etc. While getting an animal agency in there might prove difficult, if you provide a few of the proper bits of info you could tip off OSHA. In turn an OSHA remonstration could be the ammunition required to bring in the animal health authorities.
    I suggest OSHA because with animal care you have maybe 20 guidelines that need to be followed. With occupational safety, you have hundreds. It's almost impossible for any business that has employees to pass an OSHA inspection without getting stung.
  3. moosecop

    moosecop Arachnopeon

    I concur

    I volunteered with them briefly and saw things that would turn one's stomach...I have been trying for YEARS to have them shut down. I sent a two page letter to PETA (they are far too extreme for my liking but I was desperate) and was told they couldn't investigate without video and there was NO way I'd go back. We've tried notifying DNR, Dept of Agriculture (they've gotten numerous complaints that never seem to be followed up on) and even the media and nobody wants to touch it because of all the "good" they do.
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