Saturday, June 17, 2006

LIONS, AND TIGERS, AND RHINOS ... OH MY!

I've always enjoyed "Northwest Trek" because of the amazing display of animals that are native to the Northwest. It gives you a real sense of appreciation for the diversity of life that God created on this planet.

Well, this weekend we visited the South Africa Lion and Rhino reserve, and I must say, it makes Northwest Trek look like a sandcastle next to the Taj Mahal.

The Reserve boasts nearly every kind of African animal imaginable, with the exception perhaps of giraffes ... I'm not sure why they didn't have giraffes. (And if they'd had them, you'd think we would have been able to see them!) And many animals not native to Africa.

Most (not all) are more or less roaming freely on the Savannah, in large, fenced-off sections. You drive your car right through the savannah on these very authentic African roads, but you drive slowly and at times can't drive at all because you are surrounded by lions, cheetahs, rhinos, or other animals.

They also have a reptile sanctuary with practically every deadly snake known to man. Fortunatley, these aren't freely roaming the Savannah. And a more enclosed section of the reserve where you can examine dangerous and rare animals (like white lions and bengal tigers) up close and personal.

And a platform high over a swampy area where you can watch hippos do what hippos do best -- snooze peacefully.

Anyway, I won't waste your time with more words. You need to see the photos. We took more than 150. I wish Blogger would let me post them all. Here goes:

Larry and Mandy hold the front page of our local paper, the News Tribune, in a photo with Ronga, a rare white Bengal tiger, who we discovered enjoys an ear scratching just like any other putty-tat. (We're hoping the News Tribune will post this photo, as they often do from readers abroad.)

I wasn't aware that one could actually pet a rhinoceros and walk away unscathed, but here you go. Mandy is doing it. Turns out the big tough things also have a soft spot for having their ears scratched. I'm beginning to wonder if humans and snakes (which have no ears, right?) are the only creatures who actually don't enjoy this.

King of the beasts and king of the road.Driving through the savannah (in the "lion zone") we soon found ourselves in the midst of a pride of lions. (You discover why they call it a "pride" when you get in the midst of one.) Had you dared, you could have leaned out the window and touched them as they walked by the car. (I found it interesting that they warned you not to have any soft or loose objects on the outside of your car which could be chewed off. I guess this includes human heads and arms.) They acted just like they owned the road. Well, I guess they probably did! It took us a full half hour just to get through the pride ... you don't want to offend them.

Dang it! Blogger is doing it again. I'll work on an alternative method for getting the rest of the photos to you, so check back.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I love all animals, and I think the oppurtuity to be close up is fantastic, I don't like the sound of the reptiles being enclosed though :( as long as their homes are nicely kept as if they were really out free in the African Savannah then ofcourse there is no harm in doing it, I just wanted to ask! By the way I really enjoy reading your blogg":)