Monday, June 15, 2009

Rhinos!

We had quite a weekend. On Saturday, I was up early to go swimming and then went straight to Older Daughter's last soccer game. Alas, this was not a winning game for them, which I know was a disappointment to the team after the last several successful weeks. The girls and I went straight home so they could change and then we were off and running to the local Knit In Public event (with a stop on the way to get a gift card for the team mom). As we were driving to the store, we saw three young people walking their sheep down the main street. Not something you see every day, I thought. It turns out that they were on their way to provide some Livestock in Public energy at the knitting event. I completely forgot my camera, but I can tell you, it was a sight to see. (I should also mention that these were the cleanest sheep I've ever seen in my life.) We knitted away merrily on the side of a very busy main drag in San Marcos, with all of our "Honk If You Knit" signs waved by the girls (who declined to knit in public in favor of leading rousing knitting cheers). It was amazing how many honks we got, including a few from some truckers coming by in their semis, and a few cars full of guys. One wonders...

This was all very confusing to the men hanging out at the pub that shares a parking lot with the yarn store. One of them finally stopped me and asked, "What's going on out there? I thought it was a knitting thing, but then the FFA kids showed up with the sheep...?" (I'm not kidding. This is a pretty exact quote.) I said, "It is a knitting event, and the sheep are there because people knit wool." And he said, "Oh! So that's the connection." Well, yes. That, indeed, is the connection.

The girls and I hung out for a few hours and then we were off and running to Older Daughter's soccer team's pizza party. Once all of that was over, we all came home and fell over for the rest of the day.

Which was a good thing, because yesterday, we went to the Wild Animal Park to take Younger Daughter on one of their photo safari tours for her birthday. She decided very firmly that she wanted to do the Asia tour, rather than the Africa tour, which rather surprised all of us, since the Africa tour includes feeding giraffes, which were, for ages, her very favorite animal. But she declared that she wanted to see rhinos, so off to Asia we went. And boy oh boy were we glad we did. For one thing, to get to the big open Asia exhibit, the truck has to first drive through the Africa exhibit, so we got to see giraffes up close and personal in any case. (Do you know that the adults' heads can be some six feet long? And that they can swing them on those necks and do some serious damage? And they look so sweet and gentle with those long eyelashes... Just goes to show.)
The Wild Animal Park is a pretty amazing facility, in that it has hundreds of acres of open range exhibits, where the animals roam free, doing pretty much what they'd normally do. The predators are not placed into the range enclosures (although not for the reasons you'd think; apparently, under conditions like these, the chances are that the bigger hooved herd animals would take down the lions, given half a chance, so it's for the protection of the predators rather than the prey that they're not housed together -- coyotes who try to break into the bit exhibit fare extremely poorly, and do not last long at all), but they are very close by so that the herd animals can hear and smell them, so they show all of the behaviors associated with that environment, including alert circles and so on. It's an amazing exhibit.
They have a fabulously successful breeding program for endangered animals, and yesterday alone we saw a baby elephant (about a week old), some several-month-old giraffes, a day old gazelle, and three very new baby cheetahs.
Those are gaur. Their horns are absolutely gorgeous. They are very big, and apparently also very aggressive.
And then came the part we were all waiting for: the rhinos. We parked the truck, and waited to see if they were hungry for the bucket of apples we were carrying with us. They were.
Everyone kindly let Younger Daughter go first, since it was her birthday.
But we all eventually got our turns.
We even got to reach in and feel their mouths (yes, on the inside) -- did you know that rhinos' upper lips are prehensile? I had no idea.
That one there was about nine feet tall and weighed some 5,000+ pounds. It was good to be on a truck. But he was very sweet and let us touch his horn for good luck. Their skin is incredibly rough, although the guide told us that it's fairly sensitive, which is why they enjoy their mud baths so much, to protect themselves from sun and insects.

And then we had to drive back out again. I think the girls enjoyed themselves.
It was declared an excellent birthday adventure by all.

And then we went home and took a nap.
Even Tilly.

21 comments:

FUZZARELLY said...

What a cool adventure! Your girls are so lucky to have you for a mom.


And, by the way, love your hair.

Miss 376 said...

What a lovely weekend you all had

Willow said...

I really must go there! Maybe when The New Boy is a little older. He was so completely awestruck by the white tailed deer by his house. Did you notice the little knees were scratched and skinned? He was a very brave boy after he took a little tumble--his legs aren't quite steady yet all the time.

Wanderingcatstudio said...

Looks like a great weekend and those rhinos are AWESOME

scienceprincess said...

Happy Birthday to Younger Daughter, and congrats on a fun, busy, and successful weekend! What a cool birthday activity.

Take care.
Sarah

Rachel said...

First of all:Mazal Tov to the birthday girl!

Oh my, such a full weekend and awsome adventure, very special birthday present indeed :)

Geri said...

Next time we come to visit we sooo have to go there!!!

Helen said...

Three baby cheetahs? Really? Where's the photo?

Rachael said...

What fun!!!

twinsetellen said...

Oh, my, the look on your daughters' faces says it all! I am in awe of the idea of touching a rhino. Not much to spin off those babies, though.

And in my experience, it usually is the ones who look sweet and gentle for which you have to watch out.

ruthee... said...

The rhinos are definitely impressive. I am jealous of your wild time.

KnitNana said...

What a great weekend!!! And touching a RHINO? I cannot imagine, but then I don't go to wild animal parks often.
:)
I LOVE that the guy did not *get* the connection between knitting and sheep.
(just couldn't make that leap, huh, fella?)
(((Hugs)))

Bea said...

You guys do the most fun things. Did your daughter study the park and realize that the Asian tour would give you the more animals (african and asian) then you could possibly hope for? Smart girl. Rhinos are such interesting animals.

AlisonH said...

Oh wow! I wanna go! So glad you all did!

Carrie K said...

Wool comes from sheep? Who knew? lol.

I love the Wild Animal Park. The rhino feeding sounds fabulous. And the baby cheetahs. I take it they didn't let you bring one home?

Alison Boon said...

Sounds like an excellent weekend

EGunn said...

Sounds like fun! Those rhinos look like they appreciated the apples.

And the question about the sheep? So funny. There are some moments when it's hard not to show surprise, huh?

Lynne said...

Happy Birthday Younger Daughter.

What a great birthday treat!

Alwen said...

Wow. That is cool.

We enjoyed the giraffes, which are in a similar huge open area. That's all our son talks about for "when we go back".

Stell said...

I wish I could nap like a dog ... just once, curled up and relaxed and happy looking. 9 ft tall Rhino, happy birthday to YD ... and not every one gets a Rhino to the party. .... gotta wonder at the world at time ... And your wwkip commenter is right .. it was a 'knitting think' (bless him for accepting such a thing could happen and that it was knitting), and it did have a 'connection' to sheep!

Gwen said...

How often you start your stories about the weekend in a similar way...

Such a great excursion! I got to pet a rhino once at the zoo. But not the inside of its mouth. Wow!