This was posted on the other forum, but got little replies or views cause all my buds from there migrated. So here it goes. I cut and pasted, including the links to the pics, so I hope it works.
To view the photo album, please click here.
Yes, yes. I know. It's over a week old. But I wanted to wait until my pictures (out of a disposable camera) were developed first so that I may scan them and post them online for viewing before making the thread. So here it goes....
Wild Animal Park Trip Report
Saturday 9/3 – I don’t own my own car yet and we needed one. So we went to Enterprise this morning to get the car. And after a little trouble in the form of lack of the needed info to rent a vehicle from them, a big help from a relative, and a close call with my CD’s that I had with me, we ended up with a 2005 white Lincoln Crown Victoria. It was a “smart car” where the stereo volume increases when you accelerate and decreases when you brake. And it detected when my passenger Becka had not put on her seat belt once we got moving and it alerted me to it with an alarm and a light on the console. It must have had sensors in the seat. My paycheck didn’t arrive when it was supposed to, but thanks to a loan from that same relative, my trip was still on. And knowing that the food stands prices are a bit expensive, we went to the grocery store, purchased a few pre-made sandwiches, some Gatorade, and took them with us for our lunch. Our big day awaited us the following morning.
Sunday 9/4 – The Animal Park was scheduled to open at 9AM. I wanted us to be there early enough to get tickets, to be the first in line to get them, and be the first in the park and on the railway. It was supposed to be a 90-minute trip to the park from Anaheim and I was aiming to be there at 8:30AM, which means I needed to be out by 7AM. Got all that? lol We got up at 5:30, and were at the McDonalds drive-thru out across from Dland at 7AM. We hopped on the 5 fwy and ate our breakfast on the way. We didn’t hit any traffic on the way down there, just fog. And 8:30 arrival? lol We got there a little bit before 8AM. So early, we caught the parking lot attendant off guard to where she wasn’t ready to take money and just let us in without having to pay for the 8 dollar parking fee. So early, we were the first ones in the parking lot and could hear all the animals waking up. We parked in the closest spot we could, the one directly across from the main gate and exit, right in the shade. There was no forgetting where we parked from this point. LOL!
Slowly, people started entering the parking lot. And before anyone could walk to the entrance, Becka and I got out and got in line for the ticket booths. They didn’t open those until about five minutes before the park opened. Even then though, some people were getting in line by the turnstiles. I had Becka hold a spot for us, and pretty soon we were the first in the park and made a dash to the Wgasa Bush Line Railway. To view their homepage, click here. This park is very different from the San Diego Zoo. I believe that the major purpose of this park is for the conservation and education on endangered species. The Bush Line Railway is a 5 mile, 60 minute trip around the perimeter of their 317 acre field exhibits that are on the eastern area of this HUGE park. In these field exhibits, there are five sections of open land where the non-predatory animals roam freely as if they were in their own habitats. The majority of these animals are seriously endangered species with near extinction numbers that have been brought to Animal Park for protection and breeding programs to try to increase their population numbers. And there have been some that have been taken from the park back to their natural habitats in their own countries and placed in protection which is a very good thing. They have done an amazing job with this, using many different ways that include cloning. They have just opened up a new research facility on the grounds that can be viewed from the railway. They have brought back many species from near extinction thanks to their continueous efforts. Sadly though, there are some such as the northern white rhino from Africa that are so few in number, that they will soon be extinct they say within the next couple of years. They exist only in the Animal Park, and the females they have are beyond their reproduction stage in their life so they can’t have more offspring to further their numbers. And cloning is not an option for them, as we were told. Anyways, we were the first in line for the railway, right in the front. But not the first to go, because the Roar & Snoar campers were the first to go on in the morning. We departed at 9:30 AM and we were on our way on this gorgeous morning. The first animals we saw, were the Asian elephants to our right, and the African elephants to our left, including a baby one. After the elephants, was the area with the tiger and the lions, but not the new lion camp exhibit. The tiger was on the right, in the far corner of the enclosure. It was a Sumatran Tiger, and it was sleeping as usual. Typical cat. LOL! The lions to our left, the female was the only visible one and she was on top of the hill near the viewing area and the male was nowhere in sight. Above this enclosure, that is only reachable by a long walkway up a large hill, is the California Condor ridge. The birds could be seen from afar, sitting on top of some boulders high above the lion enclosure. They were still there when we returned later. We viewed the cats for a few minutes, then moved onto the hillside exhibits that featured zebras, oryxes (sounds lord of the ring-ish lol), and then onto the Asian plains where we saw antelope, Indian rhinos, axis deer, and wapiti’s.
Next was the 100 acre East Africa field exhibit, where there were southern white rhinos, fleet gazelles, Cape Buffalos, and Uganda Giraffes. Onto the 30-acre North African field exhibit to see Barbary red deer, ankole cattle, and some sand gazelle. Following North Africa was the 90-acre South Africa exhibit where you can view reticulated giraffes, sable antelope, blesboks, waterbucks, and the highly endangered Northern White Rhino, and including numerous birds. Next was the Asian waterhole, were we found the Turkomen Markhor, a sheep that looks like it belongs in St. Louis, if you know what I mean lol. After the watering hole, was the mountain habitat, home of the elusive Siberian Ibex which blended into the rocky terrain. It was shortly after this point, and 45 minutes into our tour when the power went out in the entire park and the surrounding area. When our tram came to a stop near one of their ponds, we sat for about thirty minutes until the power came back on. We continued on past the chimps, more rhinos, their hospital and research facility, the parking lot & the entrance, the flamingos and the gorillas. Then we were at the unloading station, and after a short restroom break, the long walking began.
We first headed over to the nearby Lorikeet Landing. These beautiful, but noisy birds could be heard from the immediate area. For a couple of dollars, guests can purchase a small cup of nectar that the birds love and will eat right out of your hand, up close and personal. The birds are trained to overcome their fear of people and will land on you to get some of that sweet juice. One even landed on this little boy’s head. If you don’t have a camera, but want a picture, there is an employee going around and snapping digital pictures and relaying them back to the pick up booth outside the exit. They only ask that you do not touch or pet the birds. One person did that, and a very loud alarm went off freaking everybody out. Just kidding. LOL! :P We left here, and after a quick walkthrough in the hidden rainforest, we went to the see the gorillas. There was about four of them, and only one of them was towards the front in the shade. The rest were layin back in their alcoves towards the back of their enclosure. We went back to the entrance of the park, retrieved our lunch, re-entered the park, and had lunch since it was about noon at this time.
After lunch, we started the long Kilamanjaro Safari Walk that takes guests along where most of the animals are and along the west perimeter of the field exhibits. See, unlike the Los Angeles or San Diego zoo, instead of keeping most or all of their animals in small enclosures, the majority of the big animals at the park are in larger, more open areas such as the field exhibits. First stop was the elephant overlook, where the African elephants can be viewed on the left, and the Asians on the right of this overlook viewing area. From here, we moved onto where we saw the lions and the tiger from the railway earlier in the morning. The lions were first along the path. When we got there, the female was not near the top of the hill where we saw her earlier in the morning. She was down on the bottom in the shade and nearby was the male and he was a sight to see. He was a big one, with a beautiful black mane, which was said that the ones with a black mane had a way with the female lions. He was just simply gorgeous and magnificent to look at. We sat here for a while watching them. I thought I had taken some pictures at this time, but unfortunately I realized when I had them developed that I did not and I was sorely disappointed. That was one picture that I definitly wanted. We moved onto the Sumatran Tiger nearby, but he or she was not outside due to the keeper working in the enclosure. I returned here later to snap a picture of it, which I did get, though it was far off, but the male lion was out of sight and I was not able to get a picture this time either. We moved on down the safari walk, and came to Kilima Point. This is a spot that overlooks the East Africa field exhibit, with a spectacular panoramic view of this area, with gazelle in the foreground, and rhinos and giraffes in the background off to the right. (For another shot) We could also see the caravans making their way in this area. This was an awesome viewpoint despite the Summer heat. Guests who take part in the “Roar & Snore" campouts that are held every Friday, Saturday, and some Sundays from April through October, have their group dinner and campfire from this location after sunset. We took a few pictures here, and caught the afternoon elephant show nearby. (Click here for another pic)
Next was the new lion camp. This is just down the path from where the elephant show, the Savanna Cool Zone, and the tents for the Roar & Snore (the park provides them, guests just bring their sleeping bags). The cool zone is a small water play area for families where kids may play among fountains and mist jets spray them from above. It just recently opened this past Summer. At the Lion Camp, the first thing you see is the traditional glass front exhibit like you see at most zoos. From here, lions enter from their “backstage” areas through a cave wall. Further back, you can see their small field and the vehicle you see in the pictures. Going around to the right to the other viewing areas, you can get a better view of the exhibit and the vehicle the big cats have as a shelter or as a “couch” lol. The second viewing spot is to the left of the car and the room with the glass wall that gives a closer view of the back of the vehicle, which is the third viewing area. The second, only gave us a view of the female on top of the vehicle, with a large fallen log blocking the view of the second female laying next to the car. We moved to the third spot, and naturally, this room was packed with onlookers. So we squeezed in, snapped two pictures – one from a cellphone, the other from my camera, (and in case you cant tell which one is which, cellphones dont have flashes lol) both with good shots of the male lion in the back of the car, and then moved onto the next viewing spot. This spot also gave us a good shot of the male and the female was on top, but the other was blocked until she sat up for a bit. Here, there was a keeper who was talking about the lions and informed us that there are actually 6 in total, but only one of the males was out with his two females. Nearby was a construction zone for a hot air balloon ride that will take 30 guests up and around the lions for 15 minutes, set to open sometime later this Summer or Fall. We went to the Heart of Africa walk after this, but before I get to that, I’m gonna jump forward a bit in order to condense this story. Later on, after the sunset railway trip, we returned to the lion camp after the sun was down. When we first got there, the male was circling around a tree near viewing area one. Then he moved toward the back of the enclosure and I followed around to the second viewing area. No sooner did I do this, then one of the females came up from behind the male and tackled him to the ground, much to the crowd’s delight. Here they wrestled around for a few minutes before moving out of sight beyond a hill towards the back of their enclosure. After a few roars from the big guy, she came back into view and laid down. A minute or so later, he came back and tackled her. After about a minute, he got back up and laid down near a large boulder a couple feet away. He continued to make his vocal presence known to the surrounding area as the railways continued on through the night in the background. The female, who was the only female out at this time, climbed up onto the boulder above and behind the male and the two remained there and quiet until we got bored and left.
Going back to the afternoon, we made the long walk through the Heart of Africa walkway. Not much to see along this walkway except for a lot of plantlife and some exotic animals such as kudu and bongos. At least, that’s what I think they were called. Here and there were some mist jets helping to relieve guests from the heat. We were going this way to feed the giraffes in East Africa, but they got full and left just as we got in the gate. And the cheetahs, but they were no where to be seen. So we left this area and made the long walk back to the front of the park, snapping a few pictures of the gorillas (pictures 1....2....3....4) on the way. We rummaged around the smaller exhibits such as the nursery and the petting krall, and a couple of the shops. After sitting and relaxing for a while at the Thorntree Terrace, we walked down to the Mombasa Island cooker for dinner. The prices weren’t too bad after all. It was around this time that the power in the area returned to normal after the park was running on emergency generators all day. After dinner, we got in the long line for the Bushline railway and timed it just right for sunset. While she was in line, I ran and snapped a picture of the tiger.
The animals were more active for the sunset trip. Got some good views of both the African and the Asian elephants, including an awesome shot of the large male Asian elephant with the long tusks. I have never seen one like that in person before. I only picture tusks being on a wooly mammoth or something. The person who does the driving on the railway, is also the one that does the narrating. The one we had for the sunset trip was comical, sharp contrast to the one we had for the morning trip who was serious and informative, and the one for the after dark trip who was just plain annoying. As you can see from the albums, we got some great shots on the sunset trip. Including one of the rhinos being very active. Luckily, there were no breakdowns this time. After we got off, we paid another visit to the Lorikeets, got some ice cream nearby, then walked back down to the Lion Camp for our evening visit, which you read about earlier. Then after the Lion Camp, we rode on the railway for an evening trip and a look at the stars. You might ask, how does one see the animals in the dark. Well, they do have spotlights, and they make it a habit not to point them in the eyes of the animals, but circle them around the animals when trying to point them out to the guests. We could see most of the animals, but the majority of the ones we saw were bunnies. LOTS OF THEM!!! Might have been jackrabbits, but the night grounds were infested with them. They’re the local residents of the area. I think I also heard a coyote howling in the area nearby one of the turns, but it was a little difficult to tell because of the brakes on the tram. The trip was enjoyable, other than the annoying driver and her incessant riding-the-loud brakes. The park closed their gates at 8PM, but allowed guests to remain inside until 10. By the time we got off the railway, it was closing time. So from this point, we exited. And thank God I parked close, is all I can say for our feet and legs were sore to the bone!
Finally, the conclusion. My apologies for the length, but I did say detailed lol. We went straight to our motel that we planned to stay at for the night, right near the 15 freeway. The next day, we still had the car because of the Labor Day holiday, so we made full use of it and needed something to do. It’s still hard to believe that we made it to the park from Anaheim on only a quarter tank of gas with a 19 gallon tank and the big behemoth that we had. We went up the 15 to my friend’s house in Corona near Elsinore to visit him for a bit. Then to the museums near downtown Los Angeles. And we got there and only had a half a tank left, with no fill ups. I only filled up the tank the morning before we went to the park and that was the only time the whole trip. After LA, we went to Wayfarer’s Chapel in Palos Verdes, tried to go to Ports O’Call village in San Pedro but they were too crowded, and then went to Shoreline Village in Long Beach. To view those pictures, click here. After this, we finally went home and the car was returned the next day. All in all, it was a good trip and we had fun. It was good to be on the road and driving again, after taking the bus all this time for commuting. And we both want to save up for a trip back to the Wild Animal Park to do the caravan and the roar & snore next Spring when the butterflies are there. And I hope that I will have my Christmas present then, a new digital camera with plenty of zoom. This is Phoenix, end of report.
To view the albums, click here
And it looks like it worked.
<added>After all this time, I decided to come and take a look at it again after seeing Dark's pictures of his trip. Wanted to reminiscence a little bit. And I notice I left one thing out. One thing I always remember a lot about the trip, was how the park was after dark. Just a completely different atmosphere than it was during the day. Even completely different than Disneyland or Knotts at night. A skyfull of stars above you and a park full of animals when it's all quiet. Almost like being in Africa itself. Even kinda romantic. Just completely magical and amazing. I so wanna go back.