Yellow River Game Ranch (Georgia)
- By Jonathan Phillips July 18, 2011
Art Rilling opened the Yellow River Game Ranch in Lilburn in 1962. Located at 4525 Stone Mountain Hwy., the game ranch offers visitors a chance to get up close and personal with some of the animals native to Georgia. Codi Reeves is the current owner of the game ranch. I recently had a chance to sit down with Reeves to talk about the game ranch.
Patch: How did the Yellow River Game Ranch get its start?
Codi: Art Rilling grew up in Texas and out there, of course, back in the 20s you could see wildlife pretty much anywhere because everything was rural. When he came to Atlanta he noticed that kids didn't get the opportunity to see animals like he did as a kid growing up. So he wanted to give kids the opportunity to see animals up close and he created a place where they could see deer and bears and other animals.
Patch: How did you become involved with the game ranch?
Codi: I grew up around the place. My mother has worked here since the first year he was in business. I never dreamed as a kid that I'd be working here but after I got married I came to work here and it just kind of snowballed from there. Art made me an offer to buy into the company and here we are.
Patch: What's the best aspect of owning the game ranch?
Codi: Being around the animals and being outside. I'm an outdoor person. I worked at a warehouse for a while and hated it. I like giving kids an opportunity to come out and be educated about wildlife.
Patch: What is the most challenging aspect of owning the game ranch?
Codi: Probably personnel management. We have a good size staff and there's always issues with having a lot of people. That and of course dealing with manure everyday.
Patch: What makes the Yellow River Game Ranch unique?
Codi: I think we give people an opportunity to get closer to the animals. You go to the zoo and you see a tiger laying 50 yards back in a huge cage and yeah you get to see them but you don't get the up close aspect of it. A lot of our animals are hands on, you can feed them and pet them and touch them.
Patch: What makes the Lilburn community special?
Codi: I think Lilburn is a pretty diverse community. I grew up here and have been here my whole life. It's changed quite a bit over the years but it's always been a tight knit community.
The Yellow River Game Ranch is open seven days a week from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m. with the last ticket of the day sold at 5 p.m.