Some weeks around here seem to revolve around mammals, reptiles and insects more than others. This was one of those weeks.
We’ve been seeing the giraffe around here again. On Saturday, Darin and I went out to turn off the water pump and there was a huge giraffe standing just outside of the fence, silently staring down at us. We just stood there looking up at him, then watched him walk off. He took up a location between some trees, but from our bedroom window we had the perfect view of him. He just stayed in that one place for about 30 minutes, standing tall, sometimes looking right towards us and otherwise focusing on something out of our line of sight. We went on a game drive earlier in the week and saw a baby waterbuck. It was our first time seeing such a little one! We also saw this big guy standing right on the road we were planning to drive down. We just stuck the car in neutral, rolled a safe distance forward and watched until he went into the tall grass.
On Thursday, we headed off to Mystic Monkeys with our family, 8 kids from across the road and 2 volunteers. I had talked with one of the former volunteers about a trip we had taken to Mystic Monkeys with a group of kids from TYB in 2008 and she was kind enough to leave behind some money when she left so we could take a new group of little ones on an adventure. We loaded up 10 kids, 4 adults, a wheelchair, a stroller and a picnic lunch and finally got on the road around 8:45, which was only about 15 minutes later than our planned departure time. We got to Mystic Monkeys, made sure everyone used the toilet, then our guide started our tour. The first stop was to see the tigers and lions. These big cats were a hit with most of the kids, but there were 4 who were a little intimidated by the large size and strange noises coming from these animals.
Next we were introduced to a wide variety of monkeys and a few other animals, including lemurs, meerkats and blue duikers. At the lemur cage, the kids all sang “We like to move it, move it” from the movie Madagascar.
It was a good thing we had 4 adults along as we had 2 kids who preferred to be carried the whole time, one in a wheelchair that was difficult to maneuver on the stone path and one in a stroller who needed to be pushed. That left 4 kids between the ages of 2 and 4 who needed to go on several potty breaks and our own 2 kids to deal with. For the most part, the kids were good about keeping their fingers out of the monkey cages, but there were a couple who needed several reminders. One little one decided he wanted to eat leaves like the monkeys were doing, so we had to keep a careful eye on his as well! We saw 2 beautiful cheetahs who thought the small children walking in front of them looked like tasty little treats. They kept an eye on them and when we moved on, they followed us until we were out of their line of vision.
The last cage that we visited housed 2 older chimpanzees. One of the chimps found a long stick and was trying to poke the kids through the bars of its enclosure. The guide told me that a family had come to the park a while back and had tried to go on a tour without a guide, which is a big no-no. Their baby ended up getting poked in the face with a stick by this chimp, which was an unfortunate way to learn the importance of obeying the rules. Thankfully all the kids we were with were quick to listen when the guide said “move” and no one was poked.
Today is Sunday and our animal adventures have continued. First, we caught a large lizard that has been trying to make himself at home in our thatch. Tyson saw him go under the gas tank that provides hot water in our bathroom, so he and Darin managed to flush it out using a stick and caught it in a bucket. After bringing it across the road for the kids to look at, we drove farther down the road and let him go. We hope he does NOT find his way back to us.
The other animal adventure involves our old nemesis, the hornbill. When we were here in 2008, the hornbills often woke us up by flying into a large window in the hot tub room, causing Tyson to proclaim a deep dislike for the long-billed birds. He had made his peace with the hornbills this year as they had given up their window crashing ways…until today. There are two large hornbills that have been crashing into the window over, and over and over again. The kids decided it was their duty to keep these birds away. Here they are on hornbill duty.
We have not declared war on the hornbill yet, but if they start crashing into the window at sunrise and waking us up, we will have to take action!
We are so thankful for all the creature adventures we have out here in our corner of the world!