For years I had seen the giant sign for Rooster Cogburn’s on trips from Phoenix to Tucson. I always wondered what kind of place it was. Was it merely a rancher’s land who raised ostriches? Did people come there to purchase giant eggs for their next giant omelette challenge YouTube video? It seemed a shame that I didn’t know the answer, so one day my husband and I set out to solve this mystery.
If you’ve driven on Interstate 10, you have no doubt also seen this place. It’s not hard to miss the giant lettered signs, and its close proximity to Picacho Peak doesn’t hurt either.
As soon as we entered, we quickly realized that this place was more than just some little roadside attraction. The entrance where you pay is in a building with a nice sized gift shop as well as an Old West-style shooting gallery. We had to hit that up on the way out! A large sign claimed that this is the “darndest place you’ll ever visit.”
Shortly after paying and being handed two giant cups of various animal food, we exited the building into the sunshine. I’m glad we thought to bring a backpack with water and sunscreen! There were animals in large pens spaced out nicely peering at us and anxiously awaiting what we were carrying in those cups. First up… donkeys!
These guys were hysterical. Within their enclosure were openings they could stick their head out of to receive handfuls of food. Any time a guest would move down a bit, the donkeys would trot after them. Boy were they eager!
Needing to spread out the food for other animals, we moved along to the fallow deer. These guys were adorable. They would slowly approach you and stretch their necks to receive food. One might be concerned about biting or pinching but they were actually rather polite creatures! I would have loved to spend more time with the deer but around the corner was something that absolutely required checking out.
High up in the air was what was labeled the "goat penthouse". You see, a number of goats were in a structure high in the air with conveyor belts leading up to them. It seemed a little strange at first, however, there is a sign explaining that due to the natural instinct of goats to be in high places in order to avoid predators, they were, in fact, quite happy to be up there. Not one to shy away from something this wacky, I loaded up a handful of food into a small cup attached to the belt and cranked away. Up, up it went eventually spilling out into a bowl for one lucky goat to eat. Just when you think you’ve seen it all though, more lay just beyond.
Up ahead was the "Hole in the Wall Gang" - a goat-sized, two story building with ten holes for the goats to poke their heads through. Innocent enough until one notices the sign advertising this as a goat kissing booth. Now we had an encounter kissing a giraffe earlier this summer, but now goats? Glenn, being the brave soul he is, grabbed a piece of food, stuck a small bit between his lips and readied himself to go in for a kiss. How did it go? Well, you’ll just have to watch our video and see for yourself.
Next up were the ostriches. I’ll admit that these things freaked me out a bit. Giant birds, known for biting, kicking… Yeah, I chickened out on hand-feeding them and instead opted to use the little chute to deliver their food. Glenn again stepped up and gave it a try. Apparently the secret is keeping your hand flat and raising it up to meet their mouths. Still a little intimidating but nothing to really fear.
Slowly we were running out of food pellets after visiting some sheep and Nigerian goats. A few extra areas remained that gave food in a candy style, coin-operated machine. These coins were provided earlier and we went about feeding some chickens, ducks and rabbits. Once our cups were empty of pellet food we cleaned our hands with the baby wipes located at various points and headed off for the bird area.
A cage of colorful parakeets waited up ahead. These little guys would come up and sit on the seed sticks we poked in to feed them. I absolutely adored them but a real treat awaited in a large aviary. Lorikeets. The last of our feed were two cups of nectar to feed them. Once we entered, we were greeted by a kind employee who explained the process telling us that the lorikeets would actually remove the lids off the cups themselves and drink the nectar. Neat! But once we were inside nothing can really prepare you for the experience.
Tropical colored birds were flying and landing on people. They’d crawl up or down your arm, seeking out the nectar and would drink the cups dry. This was an encounter that we couldn’t forget if we tried. They were beautiful creatures and to be so close to them was truly special.
Normally at this point we'd be done, however, we upgraded our package to have one more unique animal encounter. One that seems almost alien in the middle of the Sonoran Desert. Stingrays. You read that right. For a small amount extra, you will be handed a small cup of cut up fish at the end of your visit and hand feed some stingrays. The rays would swim right up and suck the fish right out of your fingers. They are like little vacuum cleaners!!
Once we were done with the rays, we took a stroll through the gift shop where we bought a little souvenir and high tailed it to the shooting gallery. To our surprise some of the targets shot water back out at you! I suppose the wet patches on the ground should have given away the secret but on a hot summer day, the water was welcome and refreshing.
Overall the experience was well worth it and I enjoyed it immensely. Now whenever I’m driving by in the future, I can truly say it may just be the darndest place you can ever visit!