Wednesday, May 8, 2013

A Wild Date.

A couple of months ago I purchased a Grab one deal to go and visit the Zion Wildlife Gardens doing the "Enrichment Tour". The young'ins had already been there with their Aunty a couple of years ago...but Hubsta and I had never been so we ditched them and made it a date. 

When it first opened we had watched eagerly along with New Zealand when the "Lion Man" made his TV debut... but since then the whole place had been in the news for the wrong reasons with troubles with management and the mauling of one its keepers Dalu. However in recent years someone new has taken over and have they are trying hard to make it work. 
I have always had reservations about the whole place. Is it right to bring animals native to a place like Africa to a completely new environment like NZ? It is right to then have them caged in enclosures? I decided to go with an open mind and just explore an attraction of my home town with my new camera in hand. 

The first thing you notice is the lovely rolling meadows on the drive out there. A 10 minute drive out of town takes you on a peaceful country drive...reminding me that I really need to do get out of the city and drive out in the country more often. 

A description of the 90 minute "Enrichment tour"
"You've probably seen cats do a lot of interesting things. But you've probably never seen a big cat play tug of war or slurp an ice block on a hot summer's day. The enrichment programme is all about making things interesting for the animals – and interesting for you to watch too. By varying their food and giving them different objects to play with, the cats are stimulated, curious and alert. It means that when you go to see them on this tour, you'll be seeing them at play and exhibiting different behaviour."

♥ Just the two of us ♥

The day we went was a touchy day for weather. Gale force winds and rain were predicted...but we had our brolly ready. 

 The first cat we saw the the Mandla the black Leopard. The sunlight would bound of her coat and reveal her spots. The keepers had put some rabbit meat in her enclosure and she had to find it. 

Throwing in a special ball for them to play with. 

So big! 

Interestingly all of the keepers are chicks! 
They reckon the female keepers have a calming effect on the animals. Interesting! 
There was this one moment when one of the cats let out a roar and she didn't even flinch. 

They have a real hands off policy preferring to stay out of the enclosures for safety reasons obviously  except for with the cheetahs. And you can do a "feed the cheetahs" tour...I think I'll pass!

Hard trying to get good shots through the fencing.

Here is some footage of the  park I filmed  that lets your hear what we we heard!
Amazing roars...our favourite part of the tour. 

There are 34 big cats all up. And all were amazing to see. It was especially cool recognizing the names and animals of the animals we had heard from the programme. My favourite was ZION. As you can see from the video clip....such a powerful sound!
The owners have big plans for the park...and have some plans drawn up that have enclosures that are more like their home environment. See here. 
All in all definitely worth checking out and supporting.


Leonie said...

awesome! Love your WILD date!

Clare said...

What a great adventure! I bet it was an eye opener - I too watched the show and wonder how it is doing now. Your pics are so great!

Arna-Lise Harris said...

cool! we went to this 'zoo' park in chch when lily was one. They had a pack of lions, males, females and cubs together and it was feeding time. they actually stalked us outside the enclosure thinking we were lunch. the keepers fed them raw meat through a solid cage INSIDE their enclosure. They were climbing up, on top of and all over the cage. The adults even fought over the meat. The roaring was incredible... such a cool experience.

Renee said...

OMG what an Awesome date!! We looked at going there a little while a go but it had closed it's doors for a little bit! The sound of the lions roaring is just Amazing!

Gail said...

So you recommend it aye? Next time I see the voucher I might grab one too :)

I love, LOVE lions. I think that are magnificent.
I'm a bit of a lioness, myself.

Nice work getting all amazeballs on the camera too. x