In the Presence of Simba
Thumbing Your Nose at the King of the Jungle
The Beauty of the Human Shield
We finished wandering around the local park area, loaded into the Blue Beast and went for a drive through the main Wildlife Safari Park. The best part about Wildlife Safari is that you get to drive through the paddocks and the animals just kind of wander hither and thither amongst the vehicles. They have ways of keeping the animals out of the other areas and the bear, lion and cheetah paddocks have watchful gate guards that won't let you in or out unless the animals are a distance from the gates.
The first area was Africa. The animals are plentiful in large, open hillsides with lush grass and few trees. Right along the side of the road was a tall giraffe trying to use his toungue with a prostate surgeon's precision to pull a branch close enough to his mouth to get the dark, green oak leaves that no other animal, including other giraffes, could get at. He would grab the branch and wrap his tongue around it, pull it to him, hold it in place with his chin, regrab the branch with his tongue further up, pull it to him again, and just within his grasp, were the fresh leaves. But he couldn't let go of the branch, there was too much torque and every time he released it, it flew back out of reach. It was a sysiphean effort of epic purportions.
Further down the road, another giraffe got extremely close to me, almost dipping his head down into the car and giving me the stink-eye. I am not sure why, but I think a lot of animals gave me the stink-eye. I believe they have the ability to smell the shithead on me as if it were a glaze, the kind of glaze on Willard Scott's dream of a forty story Krispy Kreme original.
The first gated area we went arrived at was the African Lions. There was a male and female lying on the opposite side of the paddock. A Wildlife Safari armored jeep was idling pretty close to the pair as they were sunning themselves. Just as we drove into the paddock, we noticed the male lion's ears were perked up and he was staring intensely at the fenced-in kennels where the other lions were feverishly pacing. According to the handout the park gave us, the lions are fed every two weeks. This looked like it was feeding time as the workers were bringing in buckets of...something. As our vehicle got in between the lion and the kennels, the male lion got up and started walking towards us with purpose.
As it got closer to the Blue Beast, filled with yummy appetizers, the armored jeep came lurching out of its position and jammed itself between the lion and us. I yelled back at Rachel to hide because this one really did look hungry and he was definitely into eating something that could scream. And as it was, Africa is much closer to Asia than America. I told her it wasn't like I would throw her out the window as a steak tar-tar diversion, but I felt that she might be the most expendable member of the party, being as she was a foreigner and all. I know, I know, that sounds awful, but I figured I was just towing the GOP line. She hid until we got into the America's and I felt bad, at least until the next opportunity for a human shield arose. It was going to be Jurassic Park without the goat.
The lion stopped about 15 feet from the Blue Beast and stood there, drooling, licking his lips and trying to decide whether to wait his turn or to rip off the top of the Blue Beast and take the Asian Girl who the White Man was offering up in front of him. A note about the lions; they are really big. And muscular. They are so much larger when they are within a running leap of you as to make you want to seriously put some distance between you and Mufasa. I am pretty sure I could woop Simba's ass, but not Mufasa. And, recently, 42 midgets tried to take one on and lost in a rather miserable fashion.
The rest of Africa was filled with Aoudads, Cape Elands, Damara Zebras, East African Crowned Crane, Gemsbok, Guinea Fowl, two hiding Hippos, some Nyala, Ostrichs, two sleeping southern White Rhinos, waterbuck, Watusi Cattle and some angry looking Wildebeest. Basically, it was a bunch of cool animals you aren't used to seeing in the Willamette Valley in the Pacific Northwest.