Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Lion Kisses, Meerkats, & More

I already covered our trip to Johannesburg (Joburg), South Africa more broadly in an earlier post, but I wanted to devote a new entry to our last-minute trip to the famous Lion & Safari Park. We went with several colleagues, who had travelled to South Africa from Egypt, Turkey, the Philippines, and Kuwait.

After having been on a full, weekend-long safari in Kenya, I'll admit our expectations for Johannesburg's Lion & Safari Park weren't exactly sky-high. We signed up for an hour-long game drive through the park, a private session with a few lion cubs, and a self-guided stroll through some caged exhibits.

The game drive was much less authentic than what we experienced in Kenya, as the park was fenced in, the vehicle had grates instead of being open-air, and the animals were partially fed by the park management. (You can see the buildings and fences in the background of the photo above.) At the same time, we did have a few unique sightings, including white lions, wild dogs, and racing ostriches.

My favorite animal from the safari, though, was this friendly giraffe with no boundaries whatsoever:

Our driver was kind enough to give us special treatment and let us even get out of the safari truck to hang out with our giraffe friend. Isn't he/she (I didn't take note) beautiful?

Then, we were taken to a pen with two baby lion cubs that acted just like big house cats. The ranger explained that the two cubs had been abandoned by their inexperienced mother in the park, so they chose to remove them from the pride and now they are virtually domesticated. They loved having visitors pet them and shower them with attention. We even enjoyed a few lion kisses - definitely the highlight of the whole trip to the park! (All we had to do was breathe into their nostrils to get a kiss.)

After that, we had the chance to view a few of the rarer animals in caged exhibits, including one of my favorites: meerkats! We then wrapped up our visit with a walk through the park's many and varied gift shops. I found this amazing cinnamon-infused lion pillow that now fills our guest bedroom with its delicious scent. Overall, I'm glad we decided to join this excursion.

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