Yesterday was one of my favorite days at The Aerie – it was the Beloved’s birthday! As a treat to herself, she took the day off from work and we decided to spend part of the day using one of her Christmas presents that I had gotten for her – a VIP tour to the Wild Animal Park.
So, after a lovely breakfast of blueberry pancakes and bacon, we made the 20 minute drive out to the park and met our private guide, Jonathan, who would take us around. Jonathan was a self-proclaimed “animal nerd” and worked on the education staff for the park. We had our own private golf-cart and got to go behind-the-scenes in some of the enclosures. The best was certainly the elephants, where we got to see the caretakers at work and were able to get really close to them – essentially just out of trunk reach.
It was incredibly cool and we were definitely being checked out as much as we were checking out. What gorgeous graceful creatures.
We also got a tour of their African savannah, which is larger than all of Disney’s California Adventure theme park. It was a beautiful day and the animals were grazing and hanging out – though the most interesting thing was when they were spooked by mules on a ridge (the park is thinking about incorporating mule rides into the local back country) – many of the animals had never seen a horse or mule (other than a zebra) and weren’t sure what to think.
One that didn’t seem to care was Nova, the northern white rhino – sadly, one of the last of her species.
We were also able to get back to the okapi area and meet one of the females there – this nice girl was pregnant and getting a little exercise.
Our tour finished up with a visit with the animal “ambassadors” – the ones that make it to schools, or fairs, or even TV shows. We got to see a cheetah being lead into her “crate” for traveling (just like Penny!) and touch a snake and meet Cliff – who surprisingly is not an owl, but a Tawny Frogmouth – a close relative of flycatchers and nightjars.
It was really a great tour and went by in a flash. I’d been to the WAP several times since moving to San Diego, and worried a bit that ther was nothing new to be learned or enjoyed.
How silly of me.