During our 80 minute drive down to Wildlife Safari today, Michele and I both lamented how impossible it seemed that we could already be at "July 18th". We had picked a date that we'd do this trip, wanting to get it slated on the calendar before our Groupon deal expired. There's just no way we could be at the halfway point of the summer months - and then, I look back on all that I've done since summer begin and I have to smile and think, "I still have half a summer left...."
Wildlife Safari is a refuge for animals established the year I was born. What is great about this place is how "non-contained" the animals are - and the efforts constantly taken to educate folks about the endangerment of certain species and the breeding programs to further populate species that are in danger. Each time I've visited, (about every four years or so), there's more and more improvements on the property. The changes especially noteworthy this time were the additions to where the elephants are kept - a full waterfall pool. It's beautiful. They've also really stepped up their marketing/fundraising efforts as they offer all sorts of special programs (at extra costs) that offers more "specialty" interactions with the animals - particularly the elephants. They've got a good thing going on at this place - so much so, that when we did the safari at Animal Kingdom, it wasn't as big of a thrill as it probably felt to others when we have access to seeing these animals "in our own backyard". =)
We picked this particular date based on the knowledge that the older kids would all be at camp and it would be something both Mikayla and Ellie would really enjoy (without the older ones being overly upset for missing it). It's also a "Whitley Friendly" activity...
Whitley probably enjoyed the experience the most just because she got to be unbuckled from her car seat. We put it in the back of the vehicle so the girls could see from both windows. Given our speed was 5mph, we felt pretty comfortable with a mobile Whitley in the vehicle.
One of our first views was of the lions. They were a long ways out, so the photo isn't that great.
The bears - no surprise - were my faves for sure. One of them was happily munching while the other two were wrestling in the water. Right as we drove by, one of them got out of the pond and walked over to say "Hi" to our car. They are so thoughtful.
The sweet elephants -
Don't know - you can only get away with saying "Antelope" or "Gazelle" so many times knowing you aren't even close to being accurate...
But, I can answer as to what this is. This ostrich/emu looking creature is a
This little beast ended up drawing blood from Ellie causing Whitley to cry in empathy. "Go away bad bird!"
So, we drove forward and pulled to the side among these very sweet little "Bambi's" - (they really were gentle and awesome) - who gave us "doe eyes" with each little morsel they carefully licked off of our hands. Thanks for redeeming the experience sweet friends!
We could even pet their velvet antlers....
Finally, Whitley warmed up a bit - but would still not give them food herself...
The last of the drive thru attractions were the cheetahs and this Siberian tiger - content to avoid the sun.
After the drive thru portion, we walked through the village - with a few more animals to view and the petting area.
Oh, lest I forget Whitley's favorite attraction - the slide at the mini playground.
These are Tarrapins (like flying monkeys). Whitley was quite entranced.
This deer is called "Snowball" - a uniquely colored black tail deer that was left behind because of its coloring.
She may be bold at Lone Pine Farms, but this little pony had Whitley a little concerned. She was content to admire from a distance.
Selfies courtesy of Mikayla...
Whitley's usual nap time begins around noon - give or take. So, we figured we were pushing it just completing our adventures with her awake by 12:30. For sure, she'd konk out as soon as we hit the road. But, "Oh no" - she had a little "Mickey House" (her name of Mickey Mouse) on the dvd player and had no interest in joining her "cousins" in shut-eye. It inspired this Instagram Post. =)
This was her, 80 minutes later - sprawling her legs over and nudging to say "Ake up Ellie!" - What a hoot.
I laid her down when we returned and she fell asleep right away in her routine "night night" location. Another major difference from my kids who were never that structured. It's neat to see just how different kids are in terms of natural preferences - and how silly it is to think "one size fits all" when it comes to parenting decisions and differences.
It was a perfect Friday fun day - a happy one for me to just get us all out of the house and keep everyone happy and occupied. Bring on the memories!!!