Out of Africa, Part 2

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To read the first part of the story of my Out of Africa experience, so go here: http://www.rubbertrampartist.com/2015/06/02/out-of-africa/

After our tour, we walked around the wildlife preserve. There are shuttles that drop off and pick up people at designated stops throughout the wildlife preserve, but it was a nice day–not too hot–so we walked.

The first animal we saw in the wildlife preserve was a rhinoceros.      IMG_2198

It was just lying about. I don’t know if it was a male or a female. It didn’t move much while we were watching it.

Next we saw a female tiger. I don’t remember her name. What I do IMG_2201remember is that she is the offspring of a white tiger and an orange tiger, so she is both orange and white! Her enclosure was such that I was not able to get any photos of her without also getting a lot of chain-link fence in the photos too.

I wish it weren’t life threatening to cuddle with a tiger. They always look so soft and snuggly to me.

After the orange and white tiger, we saw a couple of wolves. Members of a VIP tour were stopped at the wolf enclosure. Dean and Prayeri Harrison, the founders of Out of Africa, were leading the tour. They were in the wolf enclosure, petting the wolves and talking to the people about how they pay attention to the cues the animals give them and don’t push their human agenda onto the animals. At one point, one of the wolves dropped to the ground, rolled onto its back and let Prayeri rub its belly. Actually, it was less like the wolf “let” Prayeri rub its belly, and more like the wolf demanded it! The wolves were very beautiful, but there were at least two dozen people standing outside the enclosure, and I didn’t try to push my way to the front to get photos.

The next big enclosure where I stopped housed a lioness (whose name I can’t remember) and Chalet, a female white tiger. The lioness and tiger grew up together and are best friends!

The lioness who is best friends with the white tiger.

The lioness who is best friends with a white tiger.

The white tiger who is best friends with a lioness.

The white tiger who is best friends with a lioness.

The lioness likes to take their toys and hide them. She is not good at sharing!

Chalet and the lioness live in an enclosure surrounded by chain-link fencing. There is a large wooden platform in the enclosure and an observation deck for humans on the outside of the enclosure. I was on the observation deck, as close as possible to the big cats. The VIP tour came along, and Dean Harrison asked Chalet if she wanted to get up on the platform. It seemed like this is a game they play so the tourists can get good photos. When Chalet jumped up on the platform, she was above the level of the fencing, and folks were able to get unobstructed photos of her. When she climbs on the platform, she knows that Dean will toss chunks of meat to her. The lioness stayed on the ground, where she ate the chunks of meat that Dean tossed specifically to her, as well as the chunks that ended up on the ground because Chalet didn’t catch them in the air.

Chalet, the white tiger.

Chalet, the white tiger.

While feeding Chalet and the lioness, Dean Harrison explained that Chalet and the lioness are not trained, they are well-educated. The animals at Out of Africa are not coerced into doing anything. If Chalet didn’t feel like jumping up on the platform and posing for photos, she wouldn’t do it.

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Dean Harrison and Chipa, the female hyena.

Dean Harrison and Chipa, the female hyena.

Next we visited the area where the two spotted hyenas live. There is a female spotted hyena named Chipa and a male spotted hyena named Chitabe. Dean Harrison explained that like all female hyenas, Chipa is in charge. (Another staff member on a later tour told that crowd that a newborn female hyena has more status than any male hyena.) At first Chipa and Chitabe were not interested in the humans, and went deep into their enclosure, away from the tour. After a while, Chipa came back to investigate further, and Dean stooped down so she could sniff him. After quite a bit of sniffing, Chipa eventually pushed her side up against the fence so Dean could pet and scratch her. Dean also explained that the laugh that hyenas are so famous for is not a happy sound. He said if  a human were to hear a hyena laughing in the wild, the human would probably be in trouble! We also learned that spotted hyenas are faster learners than primates and can teach what they have learned to other spotted hyenas.

I just read a bit more about hyenas on Wikipedia, and they are fascinating. There are kind of like cats and kind of like dogs. There are four species of hyenas in descending order of size are Spotted hyena, brown hyena, striped hyena and aardwolf.

At Out of Africa, we did not learn that female spotted hyenas have a pseudo-penis. However, I will include here what Wikipedia has to say about it.

“Although the genitalia of the male spotted hyena is typical by mammalian standards, that of the female closely resembles that of the male; the clitoris is shaped and positioned like a penis, and is capable of erection. The female also possesses no external vagina (vaginal opening), as the labia are fused to form a pseudo-scrotum. The pseudo-penis is traversed to its tip by a central urogenital canal, through which the female urinates, copulates and gives birth.[48][49] The pseudo-penis can be distinguished from the males’ genitalia by its greater thickness and more rounded glans.[11][50] In both males and females, the base of the glans is covered with penile spines.[51][52][53]” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spotted_hyena)

If you want to learn even more about the clitoris of the spotted hyena, go here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clitoris#Spotted_hyenas.

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The hyena enclosure is next to a shuttle stop, restrooms, vending machines, and food service areas. Nolagirl and I sat at some picnic tables for a while why the girls messed around in a sandy area intended for kids to play in. When we reunited, the girls were hungry, so Nolagirl got in line with them to get food, and I walked around the area.

There was an enclosure where lemurs live along with animals I had never seen before. The photo below shows the animal in question.

IMG_2241Unfortunately, I can’t remember what this critter is called. The lemurs were all up in a tree house sort of space. They all had their backs to the one area where I could have gotten a pretty good photo of them, so I don’t have any photos to share.

I would have been excited to see marmosets in the Marmoset Gardens, but they weren’t on exhibit. Maybe they had gone on vacation.

While I was walking around, I saw a second food kiosk with a shorter line. That kiosk sold pizza. I didn’t think I was hungry until I saw other people eating pizza, then I wanted some too. I got one slice for $3.50, which is about what I expect to pay for a slice of pizza in a touristy area. It wasn’t great pizza, but it was tasty and filling.

After we all finished our lunch, we were just in time to head over to the Tiger Splash Arena.

The Tiger Splash show was intense! I didn’t even try to take photos during the show. I was mesmerized and wanted to experience the show without a camera between me and the action. During the show, while Dean Harrison gave commentary, several humans ran around, stimulating the hunting instincts of the two tigers. The tigers would use their claws and teeth on the toys (and pretty much destroyed the toys), but roughhoused with the people without hurting anyone. Harrison stressed that the tigers could have hurt the humans, but they chose not to because the tigers and humans care for each other and treat each other kindly and have fun playing together.

After the Tiger Splash show, we walked around more and looked at more animals. We saw several tigers and saw a lot of snakes and lizards in the Reptile Resort. One of the coolest snakes we saw was a HUGE amelanistic burmese python named Melanie.

IMG_2252     We spent a lot of time at the Prairie Dog Digs because prairie dogs are so dang cute. We even bought some food for them from a gumball machine type dispenser, but these little critters are totally well fed and were not even interested in the pellets we tossed to them. That was disappointing because we wanted them to eat the food we gave them.

IMG_2254We saw a two-toed sloth! I love sloths. They are my spirit animals. I couldn’t get any pictures of the sloth because it was in its sloth house, wedged between the wall of the house and an upright tree branch. It was so slothy that it had figured out how to sit without holding up its own body weight. It was totally adorable and wonderful, and I wish I did have a photo of it to share.

The last animals we saw as we were walking on the Serengeti Road were wildebeests (also known as gnus). IMG_2259

They were milling about together in a group, not doing very much.

The girls wanted to stop at the gift shop, so we did that before leaving. I found the gift shop rather overpriced. I would have bought some postcards, had they been the standard 5 for $1 or a quarter each. I might even have splurged on some 50 cent postcards, but they were $1 each, which just wasn’t in my budget.

IMG_2242This sign to the right was posted throughout the park. I thought it was a great reminder to visitors. I particularly like the part that says, “Like us, they [the animals in the park] are sensitive and have feelings.” May we all remember that in our daily dealings with all creatures.

I had a great time at Out of Africa and would recommend visiting the park, especially during winter when the temperatures are cool.

I took all of the photos in this post.

 

About Blaize Sun

I live in my van, which makes me a rubber tramp. I like to see places I’ve never seen before, and I like to visit the places I love again and again.

I like to play with color. I make collages and hemp jewelry and cheerful winter hats. I take photographs and (sometimes, not in a long time) write poetry. All of those things make me an artist.

Although I like to spread joy and to make people laugh, my wit can be sharp. I try to stay positives in all situations, to find the goodness in all people. But I often feel compelled to point out bullshit when I smell it.

I like to have fun, to dance, to eat yummy food, to sit by a fire and share stories. I want to know what people hold dear and important, not just make surface small talk.

This blog is a way for me to share stories. This blog is made up of my stories, rants, and observations, as well as my photographs.

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  1. Pingback: Out of Africa, Part 1 | Rubber Tramp Artist

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