Growing up, the only place I could see animals was at the Indianapolis Zoo. Now I’m not knocking the zoo—it’s a pretty spectacular place, but there is an experience in Decatur County that is one of a kind in the state of Indiana. Let me introduce you to the Stapp’s Circle S Ranch. Located off of Highway 46, this ranch allows guests to visit the vast array of friendly critters on the grounds as well as opportunities to pet and feed some of the animals.
I had never been to the Ranch. I passed by it on my way to Batesville for a couple of years, but I never thought about stopping in. Originally, I had it in my mind that there were hardly any animals at all. I couldn’t be any more mistaken.
Owner James Stapp claims that the ranch had humble beginnings as a petting zoo of farm animals for his grandchildren in 1998. As the years went on, the variety of animals grew, as well as the audience of the petting zoo. More schools were contacting the Stapp’s Circle S Ranch to bring their classes to see the animals. Word spread, and the ranch’s popularity grew. By 2008, the ranch was USDA approved and opened up to the public.
All of the animals on the ranch are given by individuals or organizations. There is a partnership with a farm in Oklahoma where they can exchange different animals.
Once I arrived to the Circle S Ranch, I met up with James to take a tour of the grounds. Visitors who wish to can walk the grounds, but I would encourage you to spend an extra $5 to take a ride on an antique tractor around the grounds to feed the animals.
Our first stop was to visit the bears, Yogi and Boo Boo. These two loved to eat bread. Also in the long cage were three tigers, Rocky who is one years-old, Jasmine who is three and Belfry who is three. All of these large, threatening animals are actually very majestic and enjoy an audience.
There are also plenty of bison roaming the fields of the farm. These large beasts were the slowest of the animals to follow the tractor. To most animals, the tractor means food so typically the animals race after the sight of the machine chugging along the trail. However, the bison realized that tractor would be waiting with corn no matter how slow they trekked across the field.
Completely opposite from the bison were the dolly sheep and geese. At the first sight of the tractor, it was a mad dash to the stopping point of the tractor. For these creatures, this tractor not only signaled food, but also a loving touch from a stranger.
Some of the other animals that you can see are Texas longhorns, blue channel and albino catfish, wolves, deer, chickens, llamas, donkeys, goats, camels, elk, a monkey, a ring-tailed lemer, reptiles, turkeys, peacocks and a coatimundi.
Another highlight of my visit was the baby tiger. Although when I saw him, he was getting ready for his trip to his new home in Oklahoma. I’m a major cat lover, so I was pleasantly surprised that the baby tiger was as loving and playful as a cat. Another cat surprise was the one living with the chickens. It grew up in the hen pen and now it has become his home.
It’s obvious that the staff love the animals. They love and care for them day in and day out. Because of their love of these creatures, they want to share the experience with visitors. The animals love the attention as they roam around in their open fields. I can’t even explain the connection I felt by being with these amazing creatures. I highly encourage you to pay them a visit!
Make sure to visit their website http://www.stappscirclesranch.com/ and call 877-474-2327 to schedule your visit Monday through Friday. If you want a weekend getaway, drop by Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. or Sunday from 12:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. to tour the grounds. This is an experience that you want to share with your friends and family!