Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Guanghzhou Safari Park

We had a free day in Guangzhou, so our group decided to go on an adventure together.  Several people said that the Safari Park just outside the city was really good, so we decided that would be the place to go.

All those people who said this zoo was good lied.

It was so far beyond good, I can't even think of the right superlatives to properly describe this place.  It was one of the most amazing places I have ever been.  The absolute only thing that could have made it better was if my other five children would have been able to experience it with us.  And maybe there would have been western style toilets and not squatty potties.  So I guess those are the only two things that could have made this day better.

There is no way, due to probably well thought out laws and safety standards, we could have had this same experience anywhere else.  I mean, I personally fed a White Bengal Tiger for goodness sake!

Honestly, I had to look at the photos afterward to be sure I really remembered things correctly.  Here's a sample of some of the things we did and saw.

Levi's ready to see some animals at the start of our adventure

We rode a little, open air, touristy train around the drive only portion of the zoo.  This trip lasted 30 minutes.  After this ride was done, I didn't think the day could go better, but I was so wrong.  It got even better.  Yes, Levi snuggling with me helped make the trip pretty great.

The only thing separating this zookeeper from certain death by hippo is a really narrow trench.  There were no fences or glass enclosures in this part of the zoo.

These pictures aren't zoomed in much.  There was another narrow trench preventing this rhino from impaling us to death.  I forgot to upload the pictures of the tiger area (hopefully I will get to it soon).  There was a ditch that looked to be only about six feet wide separating us from death by tiger, which I have decided upon very close inspection would be a lousy way to die.  I have seen enough nature shows to know that they should have been able to pounce from one of their perches and leap over that divide.  I think they were fed enough to think that eating my family wasn't worth the effort. 

There was actually nothing separating us from this bad boy.   No fence, no ditch, no trench, not even a line drawn in the dust, from what I could see.  He and his buddies were almost close enough to spit on.  No, I did not actually try to spit on them.  That is a figure of speech.  I believe this animal could probably kill me, too, but after being so close to lions, tigers and bears (oh my!) I felt safe enough that I could have plopped a saddle on this guy and rode him around rest of the park.

We left the awesome train of potential death and were ready to walk around the park.

No, that happy cartoon tiger wasn't lying.  We had the option of feeding a White Tiger a few pounds of meat for the cost of 10 Yuan.  That is less than $2 US dollars.  You better believe we did it!  Unfortunately, we only have video of the actual throwing of several hunks of raw meat (which I am not sure how to upload here in China).  Trust me.  It was awesome.

Yeah.  I tossed some meat over an apparently narrow trench to this tiger and her buddies.  Because my aim is apparently better than Ben's, I got it near the tiger.  I didn't accidentally smack it in the back with a chicken chunk like Ben.  I am not saying I was better at throwing tasty morsels to top of the food chain carnivores.  I am just letting you know what happened.  

For 15 Yuan (less than $3 US dollars) we could feed giraffes.  (Perhaps Ben's forte is feeding herbivores?)  This is not Photoshopped.  He really is that close to the giraffe. 

For 10 Yuan (less than $2 US dollars) you could feed bananas to elephants.  I had already tossed 4 bananas when Ben took this picture.  I was awfully excited about this as elephants are my favorite animal.
Not long after feeding the elephants, we came to a place where they were giving elephant rides!  For about $12.50 per person we got to ride on an elephant. It was so exciting at first.  Then, it got a little too exciting as it felt like we were leaned dangerously over to Ben's side of the animal.  Once we were already partially through the ride I realized I didn't take a close look as to how firmly in place the chair was.  I had visions of being the first adoptive parent to die by pachyderm in China.  In retrospect, I probably should given a faint glimmer of a thought to safety before climbing onto the back of a multi-ton animal, but it was such an awesome ride.

Because this was China, I figure I had to post a picture of a Panda Bear.  How is it possible that seeing a rare Panda was anti climactic to the rest of the day?  By the time we got around to the Panda enclosure, the fact that it was sitting 5 feet away with no fence obstructing my view wasn't enough.  If I couldn't feed it or reach out close enough to touch it, my enthusiasm barely registered.  Most of you know how enthusiastic I usually am, so that just goes to show how high the bar was set  by all our animal encounters earlier in the day.

I don't think I could have planned the day to go better.  We had wonderful adventures in great weather with a couple of nice families.  What a great break from the stress of adoption appointments.

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