So we saw some animals, then we did some site seeing – what else is there do you ask? Well, see more animals of course! Coming from the east coast of the USA, our animals are in a Zoo (the Bronx Zoo to be exact!), but a zoo none the less. They are in specified dimensions and fed on a schedule. You don’t really think of those types of things growing up on your yearly school field trips.
However, while visiting South Africa, I could not get enough of seeing the animals (and I’ll admit, I’m not normally a HUGE animal fan….). I wanted to get as up close and personal with various types of animals as I could. Let’s be honest – once I got there, I was petrified (see pics below).
So on this our 7th day in country, we went out to the Cheetah Preserve and Elephant Sanctuary. We piled everyone, all 8 of us into Sam and Mike’s jeep and off we went to see about some wild animals.
Our first stop – the De Wildt Cheetah Research Center. Here we learned about the threat of extinction of the cheetah population in Africa. We also learned the ways in which the De Wildt’s started breeding cheetah’s in order to grow the population, as well the lengths to which they went to try and curb hunters from further depleting the cheetah population. In Africa, the cheetah population is one of the many key animals in the circle of life, the food chain and in keeping order in the savannah.
After we learned about cheetah’s it was off to learn about Elephants at the Elephant Sanctuary. We learned about the habits and mating of the African Elephant. Starting in 1999, the sanctuary now houses about 12 of these magnificent animals. The sanctuary offers a unique chance for us to get up close and personal with the elephants.
While visiting, we each were given the chance to have one on one time with the animals. We were able to touch their tusks, look in their mouths, rub their ear and touch their leathery skin. I, of course, not one to pass up unique experiences, dove right in and then got a bit scared. The animals are HUGE and I am all of 5 feet tall! There were also tiny flies all over his skin! We also got the opportunity to feed an elephant (you place the food in their snout and they do a bit of a trunk toss in to their mouth). Afterwards, Jess and I each took the chance to ride an elephant. It was at this point that I remember, I’m not a fan of riding a horse so why did I think I’d be ok riding an elephant? Check the pictures, maybe you can see the fear? I know Jess and Sam said they could!
Lest we forget, we were even given a kiss from an elephant…..or more like a face suck.