Did you know, the colour of a Giraffe’s tongue is black and the Ostrich can run up to 70 kilometres per hour? I discovered these facts first hand when I visited The Lion Park, a petting zoo on the outskirts of East London.
It is a beautifully tended farm where supervised interaction between humans and wildlife is encouraged. It also makes for a wonderful and educational experience for children as you will find, to name only a few; fluffy Rabbits hopping about, Deer roaming around and giant Tortoises large enough to hitch a ride on. All moving about freely among the visitors. You are also allowed to feed the animals provided you use the farm’s specialized food mixes.
Larger and more dangerous species of wildlife such as Cheetahs and Lions are kept in large enclosures, and with the assistance of a wildlife expert you can spend time with the Lion cubs.
A restaurant, serving light meals and beverages, is a cool and welcome resting place where grandma can enjoy her scones with strawberry jam and cream, whilst being entertained by delicate pink flamingos, dancing a slow dance at the edge of a lake.
It was a sunny, summer’s day when I visited the wildlife farm with my children. We stopped to pet and feed a very friendly Giraffe, running our hands along its velvety smooth, long neck. It reciprocated by sticking out its very long, black tongue, licking my face from the tip of my chin to the crown of my head in one swoop, leaving me with Giraffe spit dripping down my nose and a new hair style featuring a wet, flattened middle path. After getting a taste for it with the first lick, our long-legged friend then happily started munching away on my hair, pulling it up by the roots and forcing me to stand on tip-toes to limit the damage.
In an effort to disentangle myself and save my hair-do, I reared back and fell backwards over a small Deer which was standing nearby minding its own business, almost knocking myself senseless. As I struggled to get up off the ground, I looked up in time to note that I ended up right in the path of an oncoming Ostrich, running towards me with long, loping strides.
Now, it might well be said no harm would have been done if I just calmly tried to move out of the way, and I will never know who received the greater fright, me or that Ostrich, but my befuddled mind suddenly received a fuel injection and screeching like a mad banshee, I shot to my feet like a rocket from NASA, turned tail and ran as fast as my wobbly legs could carry me, waving my arms madly, scattering visitors in my wake and yelling blue murder with the Ostrich hot on my heels!
We went home immediately after that episode, my children in high dungeon, for the embarrassment caused by their mother. The owner of the establishment, however, invited me back and offered to pay for a second showing.
by Larelle Foord
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