Saturday had my friends and I travelling over an hour away from Toronto to another city called Hamilton. With the direction of my GPS I was led straight to the gates of the African Lion Safari. Yes your thoughts are exactly right. It is a kind of zoo that hosts many large animals and birds. It is a safari because instead of viewing animals in a cage, we are in fact the ones in the “cages of our car” viewing the animals living in the “wild”.
We decide to purchase the bus tours after hearing horror stories about other persons’ car getting ruined by animals. The bus was wide and spacious and not too crowded. The first sight were elephants taking a swim. As we were about to board the bus, adults and children alike were distracted by elephants walking in a line and holding each other’s tails. It was a sight I’ve never seen in real life. By the time we board the bus and were on our way, we saw the same elephants in the lake swimming, some were flipping upside down in the water, not even considering their weights. Apparently elephants like water.
We drove pass the cheetah sanctuary, passed by interesting signs which read, “we are not accountable for any property or persons”. We took it to mean that in case you entered the property with your own car which you are allowed to do, and animals eat you up, they cannot be sued! A little scary if you asked me, but since we were in a very secure bus, I was not worried for my safety. We passed two cheetahs resting, then one lion laying on the ground, he may have done the early morning hunt for his pack, according to the tour guide in a very british accent. On the other side, we saw the rest of the pack also laying there under rocks. When we approached the baboons, we noticed that they were living up to their reputation. There they were climbing on persons’ cars and sitting on the top, some were on a bus eating bananas, others were chasing each other. But the best of all was the “chief of the baboons”. He sat in a high tent looking like buddha. He was fat with a belly that covered his legs and he didn’t move. They were certainly a sight to see. Moving on we saw wildebeests, rhinos, zebras, giraffes, deers, elks, goats, and many different species. In a way I felt like I was experiencing what a safari may be like on the continent of Africa. I was busy snapping pictures, taking videos but also leaving time to appreciate the moment. I was mostly in awe of the experience. When I thought the bus tour of the different animals would have been the highlight, I saw other attractions later on.
After the bus came to a stop at its port, we decided to eat lunch. Good thing too because the rain started to pour while we were indoors. When we walked out, the rain had stopped- an hour and a half later. We passed under a sign that read, “Kenya Gate”. I thought the African theme was a clever idea and it only gave me more inspiration to visit the continent in the future.
First we went to see the “Birds of prey” show. It demonstrated how talented birds can be. I was astonished by the fact that birds could be trained. As we listened to the facts of each bird, and watched them fly in our direction as their names were called which demonstrated that they had some understanding about what was going on- even if it was just the food that lured them. Next we watched another show called, “Parrots paradise”. These parrots had talent! They said words like, “Hello, how are you”. They sang the happy birthday song, wished us a merry christmas and bellowed Santa’s favorite line, “Ho Ho Ho”. Impressive! When asked where they lived, “I heard the parrot say, “African Lion Safari” and when asked about their slogan, I heard, “Go wild”. My mouth was opened the whole time for I could not believe one could train birds so well. When I thought I had seen the best performances, I realized that I was only being warmed up.
It was the elephants’ performance that stole the evening. These elephants were “gentle giants” as my friend mentioned. They were loyal and respectful to their trainers and were also obedient to directions. I watched them say hello with one foot in the air, I saw them stoop to let their trainers down, held up a front leg to allow their trainers to climb up and when asked for the hind leg, they did the same. When it was time for their check up, I saw the elephants lay down when asked to do so. Baby Jack stole the show as he refused to lay on the ground without a pillow. When given the pillow we saw the baby elephant lay down and complied with directions from his trainer. When baby Jack was asked if he could pull a log he shook his head, but when given a treat there he goes pulling. We were assuming he was going to pull a large log as the adult size elephant, George, but it was a trick because baby Jack started to run with a baby log attached to his harness. The audience thought it was pretty clever and funny. So yes, it was the elephant show that did it for me. Later as we completed all of the attractions there was one thing we all wanted to do- We wanted to ride one of the elephants. These were not the same ones in the show, but others in another location that were simply giving rides to people who wanted to attempt this. After minutes of watching the elephants walk around in circle, touching them and analysing how the elephants must feel about offering rides I had a small change of heart about it. I wasn’t sure I liked the idea of riding an elephant like it was a roller coaster. I asked the the trainers about how they know whether the elephants were fatigued, they said, “they are fine” with certainty. On that note and with the idea of not wanting to let down my friends I went for the ride. It would be the first time on the back on an elephant. Her name was Jenny. I touched her ears and pet her back hoping to also make her comfortable. The ride only lasted about two minutes but I was pleased that Jenny may not have felt our weight on her back. I said my goodbye to her and upon passing the parrots, we said our final goodbyes to them as well. We saw llamas and other farm animals, we fed them and said our goodbyes, until finally we made our way back to our car.
All in all, I must say the African Lion Safari is an interesting concept. The animals made me laugh and they stunned me with all their interesting tricks and abilities. I was pleased to have seen this amazing attraction and I do recommend it to others.