A Wildlife Refuge
One of David's colleagues told me about a really cool place not too far from town where you can hold a baby tiger. I had to know more. She said that whenever they get a new baby in, they send her an email so she can make a trip and hold the newest baby. I knew we had to check it out.
The ranch that we visited is part refuge for wild animals, and part educational center.
It's apparently a popular place with FFA groups and elementary school field trip go-ers in their area.
The boys and I went on a rare weekday afternoon when we didn't have activities lined up.
As this was a spur-of-the-moment trip, I neglected to take the good camera, so unfortunately I just have iPhone photos for you today!
We arrived a little too late for the full tour, including seeing the tigers and bears.
But, I secretly was there just to hold the baby lion!
Several beautiful buildings welcomed us.
Along with a lot of goats who were very eager to talk with us.
This shot doesn't show how many goats we got to see, and who were all carrying on a dialogue with the boys.
I liked this sign at the entrance to the main building. I need one on my front porch!
The boys liked the talking parrot - who was bilingual, speaking Spanish and English!
The huge water buffalo. Mama (on the right) didn't like us near her baby, who we never did see.
When we came back out she had her back to us and was hiding baby from our view.
Papa was just chewing cud, which the boys found hilarious.
We got to see the Baby Lion - her name is Africa.
She is 7 weeks old and sleeps in a playpen!
That's not her - that's her Simba doll.
There she is! She's being raised at the ranch, and will be moved to a lion-friendly area when she's 12 weeks old. She has been outside quite a bit and is learning from the older lions, but right now she's still cared for much like a 7 week old human.
Africa was in a very frisky mood the day we were there, so I ended up not holding her.
You can see her friendly-chewing on the caregiver's shirt.
I was sitting on the floor next to her rug with a towel over my bare legs.
The boys were on a cot in the room with towels as well.
While Africa is a baby, she is also a lion and has very sharp claws and teeth.
She spots the boys and doesn't take her eyes off them.
We all sort of froze.
I love her little Simba doll that she wrestles with.
Here I am , so brave. At one point she spotted me, froze and looked like she was about to pounce at me. I was happy to pet instead of hold her.
Curled up like a baby in the caregiver's lap. Look at those paws!
Isn't she sweet?
Here I am, feeling braver, I've moved onto her rug where I can pet her more.
She wasn't thrilled about that - so again I didn't get to hold her, but she was so sweet.
She's practically in my lap at this point!
The boys did not get to hold her, but did pet her.
So much like a domesticated cat.
She was sweet and playful and mischievous!
We'd like to go back to the ranch one day and take the full tour and understand all the work that they do with the wild animals. It's nice to know there is a great place for many animals who were purchased originally to be pets (pets!), but the families quickly realized it would not work. It's nice these animals have a good home in the midwest!
From the Book:
#32 - A Wildlife Refuge
If you live in the city or the suburbs, the closest you probably get to seeing wildlife on a daily basis is watching the squirrels in your yard or the pigeons in the park. Nothing against squirrels, but if you want to have a really cool wildlife experience, you gotta go to a wildlife refuge. You can see wild ponies, buffaloes, elk, or alligators in their natural habitat, without cages to hold them in. You might hear an elk "bugle" (a crazy-sounding mating call), watch big horn sheep lock horns, or see baby pelicans being born. It's awesome to observe animals on their own turf, and it sure beats pigeon watching (nothing against pigeons, of course).