So, of course we went back to the Wild Animal Park. The last time that we went, my dad really really wanted to watch the Elephant Show, and see the Keeper Talks bit at the lion exhibit. But, alas, the park is so big, that getting from one end to another quickly is quite a challenge. Especially on a hot and humid day! So this time, we made it a priority to head to the elephant show, which is conveniently close to the lion exhibit, and take that in before doing anything else.
Well, we had about an hour to kill beforehand, so we went on a nature walk, which included some of the most amazing plants and scenery! First there was a green-room with hanging succulents, and when we stepped into it, it was stepping into an alternate reality, almost like one of those weird dreams you have, and cannot quite decide if its a good dream or a bad dream. You know the type, right? Anyhow, I will post a picture of it in the next post. We could not get out of there fast enough…
Then, there was little room with the bonsai plants. I could hardly believe some of the plants in there. If I had not seen them with my own eyes, I would have said its impossible to grow olive trees, or grape trees, or pomegranate trees as bonsai plants. But, there they were, real as potato chips! Amazing, wallahi! SubhanAllah!
We wandered along, saw the succulent garden, some gorgeous little waterfalls, and then looked at the time, and realized we had 15 minutes to go to the other end of the park and get the elephant show. It was worth the run! This elephant, a 10,000 pound creature, can balance itself on a tree trunk! And wave at you while balanced on the tree trunk! And walk on a line of tree trunks! (Didn’t get a picture of that. 😦 )
And the moment of absolute wonder? At the lion exhibit, of course. There was that king inside his cage, laying down, then pacing up and down, then laying down again, and we could sense his restlessness, but did not understand why. I thought the lion keeper was just going to be coming to talk about the way they care for the lions, and discuss some lion trivia or whatever. There was an open spot near the door to the lion’s grounds, and the parents seized it up while alzubra and I were wandering around trying to get a good shot of the Jungle King pacing back and forth. We had no idea what the significance of that door was…until this woman in Park uniform came up to it, with a container of raw meat…and asked everyone to step back out of her way….and as this woman was coming closer, the lion starts pacing furiously, frenetically, coming to the door, and there is just this piece of glass separating it from my parents and us! And as he is becoming more restless, there was almost this force that you could feel that was just generating fear and awe in our hearts! And then the woman was at the door, and lion was on the other side of the door, and we were one foot away from her. She puts a key in the lock, and I am thinking, “No way! She opens that door, we are all dead! Are they crazy!” And then the door is opened, and that force got a million times stronger. It was like a bolt of lightning jolted us, this sheer force of this creature wanting prey was that powerful.
On the other side of that door was a wire mesh gate, with a 1 inch grid, through which she fed this King. The whole time this was happening, people were talking to the lady doing the feeding, and she actually felt compelled to apologize to the talkers for having her back to them! I was standing there thinking, “Ya Allah, she is feeding a lion! If she makes a mistake when distracted she could lose a finger! Please keep quiet and ask her your questions when she is done! This is a lion, can you not feel its sheer power?!” But, mashallah, she had unbelievable patience, and poise! She fed him five pounds of beef in about five minutes, and when the meat was all gone, the lion wandered over to a container of water, drank a bit, walked a little, and then laid down. The calmness in him was absolutely unbelievable, especially when compared to his previous restlessness. SubhanAllah, what a creature. When he was being fed, it almost made me want to cry: here was this creature that Allah made to rule the jungle, and us humans have reduced him to grovelling! Haraam! And yet, he still managed to preserve his dignity! When he was laying there after being fed, he turned his head to the sky a half dozen times, and my mom was like, “Look, he is making shukr to Allah for his sustainance.” Bah, did not get a picture of that either–well, we had to let others get some good shots too, right?
Pictures in the next post… 🙂