Camels, zebras, ostriches, alligators, antelope, buffalo and more are right here in East Texas, and most people don't even know they're here. All of these exotic animals are in the heart of East Texas and live at Cherokee Trace Drive Thru Safari (just east of Jacksonville).

This is one of my family's favorite places to go, and when a friend of ours called during Labor Day weekend and asked if we wanted to join their family, we jumped at the chance.

It is one of the best places to take your kids to see animals they normally wouldn't get to see running through open meadows, hanging out under groves of trees and coming up beside your vehicle to eat the food you throw out your window!

There are some animals that are skiddish and will not get close to your vehicle, and then there are others that come up close, while others want to get in your car with you!

There are watusi, llamas, donkeys, ducks, geese, axis seer, capybara, kangaroo, elk, highland cattle, fallow deer and more on this 300-acre animal preserve. You drive through picturesque East Texas feeding these animals in their environment.

Each time we go we try to go early in the morning when the animals are more likely to be out and about and not seeking shade from the heat under the numerous groves of trees.

During our trip this past weekend my daughter came face to face with the young camel you see up there. We were looking out the passenger windows as our friends were feeding the zebras and turned around and there he was, HEAD AND ALL INSIDE THE TRUCK! It was a blast!

See some pictures of the animals we saw from our excursion at Cherokee Trace Drive Thru Safari in the photo gallery below.

Let me know your favorite by commenting in the comment section below! My favorites are the donkeys and the camel in the truck!