Tuesday, June 25, 2013

That Time I Went to the Animal Park

I know, it wasn't long ago that I told the story of a trip to the zoo. But that particular trip to the zoo ended without actually getting to go to the zoo. This is a story about another trip to a zoo. It's a story that takes place before the non-trip to the zoo. A prequel, if you will.

Toward the end of the school year, I was invited to join the kindergarten classes on their trip to the Fort Chiswell Animal Park. Wait... I said "invited," but that's really the wrong word. The teachers kind of insisted that I come with them. I mean, they didn't hold a gun to my head, but I have a feeling their opinion of me would have diminished greatly had I declined the invitation.

Anyway, there's this animal park. It's not like a zoo where the animals are kept in neat and tidy enclosures. It's kind of like a safari park. The kids were loaded onto converted school buses and driven through a sort of wild animal preserve. That's not what it was at all, actually. But you get the picture.

Yes, we rode in converted school buses. That really just means they removed all the windows and painted the yellow buses with stripes or spots, to make them resemble tigers or giraffes. The effect was astounding. Astoundingly lame! Ha! Nailed it.

Hey, wildebeests! Thanks for killing Mufasa, jerks!
The tour was unimpressive. I mean, I didn't have anything to really compare it to, since I'd never been to a similar animal park where you ride around and feed animals from cups. The animals have been trained to be greedy. They see the bus coming through and they follow. They know food is coming. Camels, zebras, ostriches, bison... they all know what the buses mean.

I sat with a kindergartener who wasn't too thrilled with the idea of getting close enough to feed the animals. No... he was thrilled. But it was the kind of thing where he talked a good game. Right up until the part where a camel stuck it's head all the way into the window and sniffed around for the kid's cup of granola.

The kid was really excited about the zebras. But he became less excited when the tour guide mentioned that the zebras have a tendency to bite. That's when he let me do the feeding. Sure, I don't mind getting bitten by semi-wild animals.

Good thing I don't mind getting bitten. Because that's exactly what happened. No, I didn't get attacked by a hungry zebra. I was attacked by a hungry ostrich. I had just taken a picture of the thing with my phone. Apparently it was angry that I hadn't asked permission to get the portrait. I barely had time to turn my back and its head darted into the bus and latched onto my upper arm. It didn't hurt, I was just startled a bit.

I got bitten by an ostrich. It's a story I'll be able to tell for the rest of my life. How many people can say they've been bitten by an ostrich? Now that I think on it, probably a lot. They're quite aggressive from what I hear.

This is the culprit. If you see this bird, ask before taking its photograph.

The teachers all agreed that the Natural Bridge Safari Park is far superior to the animal park we visited that day. Natural Bridge is where they usually take the classes for the annual zoo trip, but this year they decided on a closer venue, just to see if it would be worth it. I'm pretty sure they're switching back next year.

1 comment:

  1. It's always the ostrich. I have many stories that ended the same way. Odd.