Leap List: Safari Park

Imagine if this was something you saw every day at work:

I was super excited about going to the Safari Park. I thought it was going to be like the game reserves we’d visited when I was in fourth grade and my family lived in South Africa. J said something about feeding the animals and I told him he was insane: No way are we gonna drive around feeding wild animals, are you crazy? That’d be a terrible idea. Imagine the lawsuits!

I was obviously surprised and a little embarrassed when the woman in the ticket booth handed us two big buckets of animal feed pellets and a brochure. “Don’t feed the zebras or the wildebeest!” she warned, and waved us through.

Are you kidding me?

There was a fence around the perimeter of the park, and a cattle grate at the entrance. I heard the Jurassic Park theme pounding in my head as we entered. An ostrich, a potbellied big, and a couple of llamas walked toward us like zombies in Resident Evil. Their eyes were glazed over, unfeeling, and their gate was slow but intent. The windows were down. A llama poked his head in the car, found the bucket, and tried to grab the whole thing.

“No! No! No! Jeremy! No! Go! Don’t go! Be careful! No!”

“Don’t give him the bucket! Close your window!”

“Ostrich! Ostrich! Ostrich!”

“Oh shit!”

“No, be careful! The pig! Where’s the little pig!”

“Llama! Careful!”

“No! No! No!”

Jeremy gently but firmly drove the car forward to get away from that trio only to put us right in the middle of the llama herd. They came at us from both side, prudently avoiding the front of the car, and poked their heads in.
“Hold your bucket!” Jeremy yelled as a llama pulled it away from me and with a decisive jerk of his head. Too late. I lost tug-of-war with a llama. The pellets fell on the ground and a few llamas ate from the pile. Two deer crept up on them.
Thankfully a woman in a big red pick truck rescued. She looked so badass in her Safari Park uniform driving that beast. I told her what happened with the bucket and she gave me another one from her truck.
“The camels will take your bucket and eat it,” she said.
And then they did.

After driving through the park, we walked around the caged animals, only “caged” was kind of a loose term for some of them. The kangaroos were enclosed, no doubt, but we humans walked the path around the inside perimeter, where we got to scratch bellies and foreheads and spy on little joeys with just their hands and nose sticking out of their moms’ pouches. Their fur was as soft as rabbits’ and their tail was as hard as steel pipe. It was amazing. Jeremy just about melted when one of the kangaroos let him pet him behind the ears. I loved watching him and couldn’t get enough pictures.

We went into the budgie (parakeet) enclosure and I thought I was Snow White or St Francis of Assisi when they started landing on my arms. And Jeremy was crazy jealous when they wouldn’t perch on him, which made me laugh. It turns out that people usually walk through with peanut butter on sticks to feed them, and the birds were probably the ones who were the most disappointed when their visitors arrived empty-handed.

Too bad we had shown up just a few hours before they closed, so we didn’t even have time to feed the giraffes or check out the gift shop. Next time I go, I want to bring a car full of girlfriends just to hear the screams, squeals and screeches.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *