Today the whim takes me to a different hobby… photography (and my love of critters). Since most of you are in the dead of winter right now, I thought you might enjoy a hot safari adventure to get your blood flowing… so let’s go on a trip through Lion Country Safari, just west of West Palm Beach, Florida. It’s a drive-thru 300 acre preserve with over 1000 animals, plus a walk-thru amusement park, too. (If you only have time for a quick laugh today, then scroll on down to the last few pics.)
It has changed a lot since we first went through in the early 70s. Back then the lions roamed freely with the cars and would lick the bugs off your headlights. It’s still a “cageless zoo” but you can only see the king of the jungle through the fence. They also used to let you hold the lion cubs to get you picture taken. One of my treasured pics! (It was up on the blog briefly during one of the Cat Lovers Hops a few years back.) It’s still an amazing place to be able to get as close as one currently can to some of these majestic creatures without having them in small, sad cages. So, grab a cuppa your favorite beverage and enjoy some pictures and facts about these amazing creatures!
The Greater Rheas (Rhea americana) in the first section were in an amorous mood. I love this one dancing on one leg!! (In the background are some Brown Pelicans (Pelecanus occidentalis), the only species of pelicans that dive into water to catch their prey. It’s fun to watch them over at the beach! Most of the ones here are rescues with wing injuries and can no longer fly.) Rheas are the fourth largest of all birds growing up to 4 ft tall and 50 lbs. Males build the nest, incubate the eggs and raise the young! They are flightless, but can run up to 30 mph. Here’s a short video clip of some of their ‘moves’ (just click on the white arrow in the middle of the picture below):
The South American tapir (Tapirus terrestris) reminded me of my time down there. They weigh up to 650 lbs. The tapir’s closest relatives are the horse and the rhino.
Their short ‘double-barreled’ trunk cracks me up, so I just had to include this out-of-focus pic that shows it better:
This waterbuck ( Kobus ellipsiprymnus), with his heart shaped nose and target-like pattern on his rump (not seen in this pic), seems unimpressed by the impala (Aepyceros melampus – one of the most agile of the antelope species) ladies grazing by.
A side view of the waterbuck’s horns:
Curving the opposite way are the scimitar-horned oryx’s (Oryx dammah) horns. Sadly, this beautiful animal is extinct in the wild since around 1990:
The greater kudu (Tragelaphus strepsiceros) male has some amazing horns – they curl around 2.5 times and average 4′ long, but can grow to 6′! How do they move thru their densely wooded habitat without getting tangled up? By tilting their chins up so their horns lay flat against their back. They are the second largest antelope, weighing up to 690 lbs. Both males and females have a spinal crest, but only the males have horns and a beard.
I love the ‘got milk?’ mustaches and peach-colored ears of the female kudus!
The world’s largest living bird, the ostrich (Struthio camelus), grows up to 8′ tall and some 350 lbs. They are also flightless. The males are black, the females gray. This female has taken an interest in the SUV in front of us!
Don’t know if she was going for her reflection, a bug, or our handsome driver! Maybe she just wanted text her kids to get their heads out of the sand. I think she gets a kick out of people watching! Now we know why they require you to keep your windows shut!
A small herd of wildebeest (Connochaetes taurinus – also known as gnu) compared to the herds of millions in the wild! They are a member of the antelope family.
The eland (Taurotragus oryx) is the largest of the African antelopes. Bulls can weigh up to 1 ton and be 6′ tall. Their straight screw-like horns can grow to 3′ long. A flap of skin called a dewlap hangs down the front of the neck and has a tuft of hair on the end of it.
The Asiatic water buffalo (Bubalus arnee) can weigh up to 1.5 tons and has a life expectancy of 25 years. This one gave me a raspberry for taking his picture on his way to take a bath! lol! (See the cypress knees below his head?! They’re so interesting!)
About half way through the 4 mile drive are the park’s namesakes: the African lions (Panthera leo) that are now kept fenced off from the cars. (I couldn’t help but wonder what happens when the hurricanes come and blow down the fences…. every mammal for himself!!) Males can weigh up to 500 lbs, 4′ high at the shoulder and up to 8′ long – they are the largest of the African carnivores. Gestation is 100 days and they have 1-6 cubs per litter. A lion’s roar can be heard up to 5 miles away. They were snoozing on our fist trip through, but up and about the second time thru,I just didn’t get a good pic.
The blackbuck (Antilope cervicapra) is one of the smallest members of the antelope family at 3′ tall. This native of India gets its name from the dark color of the mature male (buck). The ringed horns twist three or four times are about three feet long.
I found it interesting that the white lower coat makes them look extra slender at a glance… Wish I could find clothes like that!!
Ankole-Watusi (Bos taurus) is a breed of cattle with large horns that may span 10′! Blood circulating through the horns is cooled, then returned to the body, which helps them to tolerate extreme temperatures. Newborn calves weigh 30-50 lbs, but grow up to weigh 900-1600 lbs. At night the herd sleeps together with the calves in the center and the adults facing outward with their horns as a protection against intruders – the ultimate in portable fences! This breed is often referred to as ‘cattle of the kings’ as those with largest and longest horns belonged to the African tribal kings. Here they come with a scimitar-horned oryx laying down in front of the pic and and Impala (Aepyceros melampus) standing behind him.
Looking out the window of the SUV, we were glad they were more interested in eating some grain that attacking the car… bet they could do some real damage if they wanted!!
Impressive! They are associated with several tribes, including the Tutsi. BTW… doing the Watusi dance has nothing to do with the cattle. The dance was named after the Watusi (now Tutsi) people of Africa, whose traditions included spectacular dances.💃
I’m thinking this next guy look more like a water buffalo than a watusi, but I’m not sure. He’s got an amazing personal towel rack, tho! 😂
The endangered southern white rhinoceros (Ceratotherium simum simun) weighs up to 2.5 tons and lives up to 40 years. Unlike their cousins, the black rhino, they are reasonably docile. They get their name from the Afrikaans word “wyde” meaning wide or square lipped. They are actually stone gray in color. Rhino horns aren’t bony, but are made of keratin… a protein also found in human hair and fingernails.
Grant’s zebras (Equus bruchelli bohmi) are a member of the horse family. Not as fast as a race horse, but easily have more stamina. Zebra stripes are like fingerprints – they are unique to each individual. Which made me laugh, wondering: how much stripe-print dust do the zebra police use to find the guilty party?!! 🤣🤣
No, I don’t have a fascination with zebra butts.. I included this pic as I thought it was interesting: see the one on the left? He has tan stripes in between the black and white!
After driving through the park, you can take a picnic lunch into the Safari World amusement park or get something at their restaurant. There are lots of rides and water activities, but there are also lots more critters to see in this section of the park…
The sarus crane (Antigone antigone) is the tallest of the flying birds and can stand up to 5’11”:
The East African crowned crane (Balearica regulorum gibbericeps) looks very regal, indeed! I wonder if the queen’s guard got their uniform ideas from it?:
The beautiful flamingos (Phoenicopterus) get their color from their food source.
Hmmm… next card I make with flamingos, I’ll have to deside if I want a green or a blue background for them… I like them both!
Of course there are reptiles in the park. Since I move about the pace of a giant tortoise most of the time, I had fun watching this guy mosey along in his pretty shell. The great thing about these guys… it’s easy to get an action shot that isn’t blurry! Lol!
They have a couple of aviaries for feeding the Budgies and Lories. I love those AMAZING colors on this lory!!
And they have several types of macaws, including one who loves to dance to music! This blue and gold macaw (Ara ararauna) sports more great colors I’d love to use on a card!!
My favorite part of the amusement park was the giraffe feeding pavilion. You get up eye-to-eye with these beautiful creatures! The giraffe (Giraffa camelopardalis) is the tallest land mammal with a height of up to 17′ and it’s long prehensile tongue can extend its reach by 15 inches.
And, for $3 they’ll give you a few romaine lettuce leaves to feed them. Yep, I want a perch like this in my Paradise dream home (sans fence, of course!)!!
Now here’s the question of the day: How DO mother giraffe’s know when they’ve liked that dirty spot off their kid’s neck?!! 😄
Lets close this trip with a Humor Gallery… These critters just had so much character and made me laugh, so I just HAD to share them with you!!
How DOES this East African crowned crane sit like that?!! I wish I had a mini keyboard to put under his feet! 😄 😄
“Did I get any grain on my cute little heart-shaped nose? Really?! Well, you’ve got spinach between your teeth!’:
‘I would smile wider, but my laugh lines might show!’ Forget Clark bars, this one’s a Snicker! (If you get it, we’re DEFINITELY showing our age! Hahaha!😉)
The singing kudu… what do you suppose he’s singing?!
“In the jungle, the might jungle, the lion sleeps toniiiiiight!
A-weema-weh, a-weema-weh, a-weema-weh, a-weema-weh….
Hush my darling, don’t fear my darling, the lion sleeps confined.
Hush my darling, don’t fear my darling — unless there’s a hurricane!
We-run-away! We-run-away We-run-away! We-run-away!” — The Joke’ns 🤣🤣
I hope you enjoyed your trip! If you didn’t know it was in Florida, you might think you’d just been to Africa. One small tip: if you plan to visit. We regularly get coupons in the mail for $8 off per person…. if you know someone who lives down here, let them know if you’re planning on visiting so they can save their coupon for you! : )
I have a few craft projects waiting to be posted, so I hope to be back soon to share them with you. Meanwhile, stay warm y’all. Spring isn’t far away!!
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Awesome photos! Wow! What a place!
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Oh, my goodness, D.Ann!! What a fabulous photo tour!! I love your blog so much because I never know what delights you will have in store for us: your totally awesome cards, your beautiful jewelry or mixed media projects, or an amazing travelogue.
I am fascinated with nature and critters of all kinds……(old biology major here!)…..and so I just eat up your posts that are filled with your phenomenal photography, the fun facts about the specimens, and your witty narrative. Fantastic post!!! I think I am most impressed with the wide variety of horns on all those ruminants….just so fascinating!!! I want to go with you on your next trip!! 🙂
jwoolbright at gmail dot com
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love these photos!
looks like lots of fun!
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