Giraffes, Rhinos, and Impalas Oh My!
Last week, my husband and I traveled to California where we visited the San Diego Wild Animal Park. Two years ago, we visited the park, but I wanted to go back. Why? Because, silly me did not go on the photo safari last time. I’ve regretted that decision ever since.
We quickly learned that one of our guides, Vicki, likes giraffes as much as I do. How cool was that? We talked giraffes and I experienced a lot of envy over her incredible job.
The Wild Animal Park has over twenty giraffes and we fed three of them: Maliki, Willow, and Ykeke. These tours provide acacia leaves to feed the giraffes, and we didn’t have to share with ANYBODY. I even let Bruce feed the giraffes a few leaves! The guides taught us how to feed them so their large heads wouldn’t knock us over. A male giraffe’s head weighs eighty pounds! That’s some serious head butting material.
We fed apples to rhinos, which lumbered up next to the truck. We stood over them and dropped the apple pieces into their cavernous mouths. Rhinos will let you touch them, and I discovered that their hide felt tender and soft. Don’t try this at home, though. They played nice because of the apples and the fact that the truck kept us above them. I wouldn’t want to come face to face with one on the ground!
The park hosts various herd animals, each with its own distinctive, yet beautiful markings. We watched an oryx male, intent on love, pursue a female all over the grounds. Our guides told us that the females make the males chase them for long periods of time to ensure that the male possesses great stamina. She eventually relented, but she chose a difficult spot for the poor guy, and we left him still trying…
We saw the offspring of such behavior everywhere. Many mother animals tuck their newborns in a valley or a depression for safe-keeping while she feeds. We learned that the keepers spent hours the day before trying to locate a newborn Impala calf because its mother tucked it so well. When we stopped to peer at an Impala calf tucked into a drain pipe, Vicki spotted a newborn Impala lying beside its mother. Imagine our surprise when the Impala stood up and finished delivering her calf right before our eyes!
We also witnessed one Transcaspian urial lamb standing on a rock outcropping harassed by two crows. Our guides told us that one bleat and mama would come running. They were right, mama rushed to the rescue followed by the rest of the herd. Amazing.
The rewards of this trip nestle in my heart and memory (and video files) forever. We saw so much more than the typical tour, I can’t help but wonder at this blessing.
Special thanks to our guides Vicki and Amanda, and our safe driver Tim, for an incredible experience. We will never forget it or you!