We’ve seen quite a bit of wildlife over the past couple of days. Yesterday we went to the Zoo. I’ve still not really made my mind up about this. On the one hand, it’s a great idea for raising awareness and funds for conservation projects and a fair number of the animals would probably not survive in the wild as they have injuries, such as the bald eagles with damaged wings that just wouldn’t be able to look after themselves or hunt properly. It’s just that, well, on the other hand the animals in the zoo just look so depressed. They’re usually not in their natural environment with its accompanying geography or climate. A bit like me actually (but I’m pretty happy about my situation).
Today, however, we went for a cycle around our local wildlife refuge which is an expanse of 9,250 acres that sits on a very narrow strip of land along the coast. This gave us the opportunity to see snakes (at least three different types, including the venomous Cottonmouth Snake), birds of prey and turtles, lots and lots of turtles (Yellow-Bellied Sliders, in fact). No matter how small, I think it’s still more special to see real wild animals scuttling past and surprising you than seeing even the most majestic elephant or giraffe that’s been ushered into an small enclosure to meet you. Especially when you’re not entirely sure whether or not the snake blocking your path is the venomous one you’ve been warned about. There is nothing quite so heartwarming as seeing a family of turtles sunbathing together on a riverbank. There’s also nothing quite so pants-filling as standing in a wooden shelter in the woods reading about the dangerous feral hogs when you hear a loud crashing nearby. Even if it does only turn out to be a squirrel (I swear it was wearing clogs and tapdancing on the roof).
Tags: animals, cycling
Had a lovely day at Busch Gardens Williamsburg. Possibly a strange choice for someone who doesn’t like going on rollercoasters and other such rides. Indeed I did spend a large portion of my day holding the bags while my friends went on the stupid rides. I wasn’t entirely left out though. Oh no, I went on the Teacups! (Bit fast and spinny, but I coped.)
This is Busch Gardens Europe and it was highly amusing having a wander around the Americans’ idea of “England” and “Scotland”. Also a little bit weird seeing an actual red telephone box again. Haven’t even seen one of those in the UK for a while now. As well as all the rollercoasters, Busch Gardens also has animals, and in “Scotland” one of these was the Border Collie. Not really what I would expect to see in a zoo, but hey. Slightly odd seeing sheep grazing in a field too, as this is something you do not see at all in the US.
The best bit was the wolf cubs. They were three and a half months old, but rather than the cute little puppies you might expect, they were the size of fully grown German Shepherds. You could easily mistake them for the same, apart from the piercing blue eyes. In fact, one family on a holiday somewhere in the American Midwest did exactly that and, thinking the little pup they had stumbled across was a GS that had got lost, took it into their mobile home overnight before taking it to a vet the next day. The vet realised it was a wolf, and potentially dangerous, and this pup has now ended up living in Busch Gardens as it couldn’t be released back into the wild. The wolf cubs here have a domestic dog as their surrogate mother at the moment, who is teaching them pack behaviour so that they can be successfully integrated into the larger existing pack at Busch Gardens eventually. I could have sat and watched them all day, they are so enchanting.
The American Eagles were pretty cool too, and rather large. They would have been a bit more impressive if they didn’t totally remind me of Sam from the Muppets.
Busch Gardens has a daily pet show, which was really good. It only lasts about twenty minutes and has at least 20 animals participating, so each one is on for a very short amount of time and in most cases does nothing other than run across the stage, so they are certainly not overworked. All the animals have come from local rescue centres and are now given lots of love and care at Busch Gardens. As well as cats and dogs they also have pigs and ducks. I was particularly impressed by the parrot that could do maths. There’s got to be some trick to it, but I couldn’t figure it out….