During our travels we have been fortunate enough to explore parts of Africa and go on safari. In 2015, while parking our boat in South Africa we flew to Botswana and spent about two weeks on safari. During that adventure, we saw so many amazing animals in their natural habitat, many times getting within a few feet of them. This experience was truly one of the highlights of our lives and if you ever get a chance to do this, grab that opportunity as it is worth the effort and costs. You will not be disappointed!
Today, we joined another safari. This one was led by our grandkids: Isaac, Stella and Wyatt. Christina and Michael had organized a trip to the Tucson Zoo but once we all met there, the kids took over and led the way around the zoo with us adults trying to keep up. It is rare to see such unbridled excitement as the kids ran from one area to another, shouting out the names of the various animals they discovered.
HERE IS WYATT LEADING THE WAY INTO THE PEACOCKS
The Tucson Zoo is one of the better zoos we have gone to as it is laid out with the animals in mind. Each area is large and strives to keep with the natural environment and habitat within which that animal is found in the wild. Most of the animals are within enclosures but the enclosures are large with diverse areas for the animals to explore and move between. For example, there is a grizzly bear enclosure with two large grizzlies. They have two separate areas they can roam around in with a “cave” that connects the two areas. Each has running water but one has a large pool with a rugged, rocky wall that allows them to climb around on and to jump into the pool to cool off. Other examples include large, separate “savannahs” each for the rhinos, elephants, giraffes, and zebras.
THE RHINO SAVANNAH
THE ELEPHANT SAVANNAH
THE GIRAFFE SAVANNAH WITH A HERD OF BOYLESSES IN THE FRONT
THE ZEBRA SAVANNAH
Some animals are allowed to roam outside of the enclosures. An example of this is the colorful peacocks that strut around the paths the visitors take when exploring the zoo. These large, beautiful birds are use to people and you are able to walk right up to them before they move away. The down side of this openness is that you have to be careful where you walk as peacock droppings dot the sidewalks.
During our numerous trips to various zoos around the world, our African safari, our trekking through the Amazon Jungle and even during the many overnight hikes we have taken through the wilds of the Cascade Mountains in the Pacific Northwest, the Sierra Mountains in California and the Rocky Mountains of the mountain states of the US, we have never been threatened nor attacked by any animals. We have always taken caution and given a wide berth to them whenever we knew or suspected they were in our area. However, today we were “mauled” twice while at the Tucson Zoo.
The first time we were mauled, it was by the notorious, killer peacocks, who are renown for picking up people by their claws and carrying them away to their faraway nest to slowly devour their prey.
OK, OK, I will admit that my imagination is running away from me at bit, but that was the thought that ran through my head as the grandkids spooked two of the large birds. In response to the grandkids running up to the birds, shouting with excitement, two peacocks jumped into the air, bouncing into each other, and then flew around 20 feet, right over my head. In an attempt to avoid being crushed by the large birds, I had to duck down low. Even that was not successful as one the wings smacked me on the head. I swear, after being mauled like this, I will never be the same again…
MOMENTS BEFORE BEING MAULED BY THE PEACOCKS
If that was not enough, I was “mauled” a second time, this time by a large female lion! We were all in a “cave” looking through a large floor to ceiling sized plate of glass at a pride of lions. There was a male strutting around and three full size lionesses. Two of the lionesses were feeding and one, the largest of the three, was slowing walking toward us. To capture the moment, I raised my camera and as I did, the lionesses roared and leaped up at me, striking the glass pane with her outstretched paws and body. Yikes! We all screamed and it is only with remarkable intestinal fortitude that I did not crap in my pants! Whew! That was scary.
I would like to say it was my nerves of steel which allowed me to capture with my camera the wild beast mauling me through the glass but the truth of the matter is that it was just a nervous reaction or twitch that allowed my finger to press the shutter button to get this shot of the “mauling”.
Boy, this Tucson Zoo sure is a dangerous place!