Thursday, July 14, 2016

Field Trip: The Wilds

The Wilds

When my mom and sister came to visit, we did some exploring--I finally made it into some of the local shops and the antique mall, and we took the kids on a few different "adventures" through the week.  I didn't take my camera to the water park, for obvious reasons, but the kids had a blast there.  On the last full day of their visit we took a little road trip to visit The Wilds!  It is a conservation center on reclaimed mining land.  It's affiliated with the Columbus Zoo and accredited by the AZA but didn't quite feel like a zoo.  It's nearly 10,000 acres, and you can see the fences and driving paths through the pastures, but it's a different experience.

We rode a Safari Transport (a bus) through their pastures and we had a very knowledgeable and funny driver.  Well, our half of the bus seemed to enjoy her jokes.  The other half didn't laugh as much, so maybe we have a quirky sense of humor?  I don't know.

It started off a little slow.  We couldn't see the different deer or the bison in the distance, and I was worried the kids would get antsy.

The Wilds


But the views were nice, and she spent time telling us how the different animals came to be threatened or endangered.

The Wilds

Finally we got deeper into the tour.  Our first up-close encounter was with the camels . . . they spent a lot of time making faces at the windows and scratching on the back of the bus.  She informed us it was a good thing we weren't in one of the open-air buses, because they stink and they do spit.

The Wilds


The Wilds

We learned about the Persian Onagers, which are from the deserts of Iran (I think that's what she said) but have adapted very well to the winters here.
The Wilds


At the first stop, we could get out and feed some type of birds and walk down to the lake and feed the fish.  (You can do fishing tours here as well.  I don't like to fish, but neat nonetheless.)  There were a few animals to look at, but the fencing made it difficult to get good pictures.


The walk back uphill was longer than I expected while wearing Eloise.  Shew!


We learned that the Przewakski's Wild Horse is the only truly wild horse, never domesticated or trained.  Apparently they have a genetic issue that affects their short term memory.

The Wilds


The second stop was to the midsize carnivore center.  Unfortunately it was too difficult to get decent pictures of any of the animals--we could see several Cheetahs and the Dhole, but I don't remember seeing the African Painted Dogs.  The boys did get to see a couple cheetahs run out of the woods, so they enjoyed that.

We did learn a lot about their breeding program as we rode up to this stop.  I didn't know cheetahs were highly inbred.  And don't make the animals sick.
The Wilds


Back on the bus we got a closer look at the Sichuan Takin, from China.  She said they are difficult to find and study in their natural habitat, so Chinese scientists will come to The Wilds to study them.  We actually drove past some early in the tour, but they were further back in a different pasture and harder to see--these two had been moved to a different pasture because they were bullied by their herd and so were put in a safer place.

The Wilds

The Wilds


Eleanor loved the Zebras.  The male was named Elvis, because you know . . . .

He tried hard to follow the bus through the gate.  She actually had to stop and radio animal control, because apparently he likes to pretend he's walking away then run through when the gate opens.
The Wilds

The Wilds

It was hard to get a good picture of the ostriches through the windows {I'm no photographer, obviously} but Eloise was infatuated with them because they came right up to our window too.  Emory liked watching this one follow our bus.

The Wilds


Both of the girls also loved the giraffes.  We learned all about their vertebrae and their tongues and two foot heart and other weird facts.  Maybe we'll take another trip here when we row The Giraffe That Walked to Paris again.




So this guy.  Apparently he is called The Swamp Monster.

The swampy-look-rolling-in-urine thing . . . all part of the mating ritual.  Glad I'm not a deer.



He was Emory's favorite.  You know, because he was gross and called The Swamp Monster.  It doesn't take much to impress a 6 year old boy.  There was also that bit about rhinos all doing their business together and then digging through their feces to make sure everything's okay that amused him too.  {The adults thought her joke about it being Facebook for rhinos was great too!}



We didn't make it into the Hellbender Conservation Center, and I know there were rhinos and antelopes and other animals we couldn't see very well due to their distance.  It was still a fun trip, and they do really well training their guides.  She was knowledgeable without sounding overly rehearsed or bored.  The kids really enjoyed it.  Elliott wants to go back and do the zipline tour next year when he's old enough, and Emory wants to know if he can grow up and be "someone who just watches animals."  He wants to be a zoologist now.  He's always loved nature and bugs and animals, so I'm not surprised that would be his current occupation of choice.  They have a couple of homeschool classes there later this year, so maybe we'll make a day of it again.  I know he would love it.







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