By Sarah Mouchet
staff writer 

Windswept Ranch


September 30, 2023

Sarah Mouchet.

Colette, a rare breed of donkey from France called Baudet du Poitou, is one of only a couple thousand of her kind that are left around the globe.

Just 30 minutes down Tehachapi Willow Springs and tucked away from sight is an exotic animal ranch run by Diana Freiling, who has over 25 years of experience in exotic animal handling.

Windswept Ranch is home to a variety of unusual animals like buffalo, reindeer, ostriches and camels, including one from the second "Jumanji" movie. Her camels travel regularly to visit children and provide camel rides. During the winter months, Diana's reindeer also travel all over California, like SeaWorld and celebrity parties. The reindeers' income is what supports the ranch.

Diana opened Windswept Ranch 10 years ago and rapidly began receiving calls from Fish and Game to take in illegally domesticated deer. She is one of the few places in California that accepts deer rescues and is hoping to become a certified deer rehab center in the near future, as currently there are only one or two in the state. She's also one of the few people in the state that can successfully keep reindeer, who are notorious for being difficult to keep alive.

On Saturdays, Windswept partners with a nonprofit called the Animal Education Center to host an open petting zoo. Diana recently retired the animals from traveling zoos, but each week people can still come out to the ranch to interact with them. The ranch is open from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturdays and admission is $8 (and a bag of carrots is $8 if you'd like to feed the animals). From yaks and highland cows, to alpacas and zebras, everyone can find something they love.

Windswept will be hosting a pet adoption on Oct. 14 for the second year in a row. Nonprofits bring a variety of pets to the ranch, from dogs to horses, that are ready to be adopted. Time to be set soon.

If you'd like to support the cause, the ranch is in desperate need of volunteers for both animal care and pen-building. It is a great time to connect with the animals, get away from your busy schedule or build some experience in exotic animal care! Just put "Windswept Ranch" into your GPS to find them.


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