I adore Giraffe's!!!
11.20.06 0 °F
Entry # 30B –Second Week at the Lion Park
Sunday, November 12
Overcast all day –
Our team began in the cub world and cleaning out the pen of 6. They were all wound up and we had not even half way finished cleaning when the lines began to queue for the lions. Given, said we were to open the door to them. I said I was surprised that they were let in before they were fed and settled. He said people came first. The other two volunteers escorted the first group in and I went next door to begin the pool for Kumara and Kiango who would be coming down soon. I did not see it, but apparently, a little boy was scratched by a tooth during the first set of visitors. After they left, no additional groups were able to go in until they had eaten. Hmmmmm?
Luckily the food arrived soon after that and the people got to watch them eat. Immediately following the food leaving, the guests went back in. I would have given them at least 15 to settle, but no incidents happened. The group may start 30 minutes earlier next weekend in order that they can be finished cleaning and feeding before the guests arrive at 8:00 am.
We got to bottle feed the babies again. I got Nia and she polished off her bottle with pellets in record time. Some of them still have a runny tummy, mainly due to change in diet, teething and not quite enough exercise.
HUGE THUNDERSTORM EARLY EVENING AND ALL NIGHT. We had no power for most of the dinner preparation and luckily, the meat was being done on the bbq. We ate dinner by tabard insect candles and head torches in a tent with a dry table and chairs. The wind was howling and we were freezing, but it was fun all the same. We were happy to get into our tents.
I am reading The Jane Austin Book Club – okay.
Monday, November 13 – DAY OFF YAAAH!
Funny, on my day off, getting up early and out of bed by 6am was not a chore. I was also rewarded because when you get up that early, you get to see the zebras and impala on our side of the fence so that you can get really good photos.
I spent the morning getting organized for my day off including what I needed to accomplish at the internet. Erin and I had a 10 am pick up for our trip to the mall.
Lots of internetting and logistics to complete. I bought a BritRail Pass and got reservations for my last two days in JoBurg at a nice hotel. After 3 months of roommates or having to cater my own meals, I feel I deserve a little luxury and fun things like sample shampoos and lotions in the bathrooms.
Zahra and Karen joined us at the mall as they were on the shopping crew. I was still getting my logistics set, so I had to pass on lunch with the group. Just a well as I needed some alone time to clear my head. My vibes card today was Clear A Path – let go of all the redundant stuff I am still hanging on to.
We got home to find yet another flood in our tent and temp very cold. It had bombed rain literally all day and as we were waiting to be picked up, the rain fell in sheets.
Dinner was late as the ingredients had come from today’s shopping and I went to bed with my new book.
During the night, both Karen and I made a pilgrimage to the bathroom. Unbeknownst to me, she slipped and fell and scrapped her right side. This brings injury to all my tent mates so far – Amanda and her ingrown toenail, Karen her slip and bruise, and Zahra her tumble over a log in the cub pen. They invited me to join the injury club and complete the tent and I told them that I had a wonderful team of angels watching over me and that I as happy not to play that game.
We did manage to find two space heaters that we used to heat up the tent which help immensely. I still went to bed in my long sleeve shirt, my Robben Island fleece, my fleece hat and socks. Very sexy I know
Tuesday, November 14
I began the day by moving all the still damp laundry out to the line where the sun could make a difference.
Started the day a little grouchy, the day-after-the-day-off syndrome again. Everyone seemed to be moving in slow motion with no map or compass of where they were headed. I asked for and received a different view and things improved immediately.
Most of the occupants in the pens had shifted so now we have Kumara and Kiango in touch-a-cub, the cheetahs next door, the six including the hyena immediately behind touch-a-cub and the old cheetah pen empty. The larger lions that had been behind touch-a-cub are now in the pen that we cleaned last week to be ready for mowing and they have moved the wild three out there as well. Apparently, the transfer and introduction of the wild cubs into the other group went without a hitch and they acclimated into the clan with no problem. Ian knows his lions that is for sure.
We had lots of giraffe activity today with both of them coming up for pellets and lots of kids got to feed them. We only made 210 rand, which is lower than the all time high of 480, but still respectable for a Tuesday. Obviously with the torrents of rain yesterday, there were no giraffes to feed.
I happened across Ian today and every time I do, he calls me Denver and asks how I am doing. I said fine. He asked if I liked the lions and I said yes, but that I preferred the giraffes. I do, they have lovely eyes and eye lashes and you don’t have to worry about their teeth and claws.
We did a little weeding, helped in touch-a-cub, giraffe duty, moving the cubs around and some feeding. The three littlies are now on bowls of kibble drenched in milk and everyone is doing pretty well with it. Even little Swazi is eating although he is so ADD, that he keeps being distracted and walks off. As long as you keep moving his bowl, he thinks he is getting something new. It was a good thing that we got to bottle feed the cubs over the weekend, as Princess has moved them on to pellets. They really are ready for them.
During lunch, I organized my dinner plans as I was cooking baked potatoes for a baked potato bar. Considering that we don’t have a functioning oven, I planned to use the microwave. The toppings would include chili, frozen veggies, baked beans, cheese and salad. The shopping crew has misinterpreted that I asked for sour cream and chives, not sour cream and chives dip.
Amanda went back to the Dr. about her toe and he gave her more pills. Cutting it out is the last option. They were supposed to go to the store to pick up the few things that had been left out yesterday, but forgot. Therefore, no sour cream and we still only have one bag of cereal. Oh well, I leave on Saturday night, so only 4 more days of breakfast to contend with.
During dinner preparation happened when everyone else was on a walk and I was listening to Secret Garden. I found that we were loosing water pressure. Sure enough, when they all returned we found that indeed, no hot water. Investigation found that the tank was dry and we were told it would refill in about 2 hours. No shower tonight for most of us.
After our days and nights of rain, we are happy for the dryness, but it has also caused an absolute explosion of flying ants. Most people were complimentary about dinner that was nice and most of us ate as fast as possible, because the ants descended on our dinner. My plate was blissfully devoid of bugs. DON'T I HAVE GREAT ANGELS? I went to bed to blog and finish the Jane Austen Book Club. It has turned out to be a pretty good book.
Wednesday, November 15
Incredibly slow day, so much so that I took a two-hour lunch and sorted through my luggage of things that I will leave behind in Africa. As I had every piece of luggage open and strewn, the gang came by in a car on their way for trash picking in the lower pasture. I decided not to go, and finished my sorting. I came up with bag of stuff that I will leave with Ornica to distribute as she sees fit.
As the group was delayed in getting back, I got to feed the three cubs their lunch with Kara. They are doing very well and eating like champs. Grandma would be so proud of them.
It was very hot and we all sort of drifted through the day. I am now reading Eragon (book about a dragon rider) and am having a hard time putting it down.
Water is still limited but I did get a shower tonight that was lovely. Bore water so we are not drinking it.
Most of the group is going on an excursion tomorrow so we will be only three. If there are as few people as yesterday, it will be no problem. Alex said that we would be getting the cubs and giraffe’s ready for a photo shoot with model tomorrow. If the giraffes aren’t up at the fence, we have to go lure them up. SURELY YOU JEST? Just what do they think we will be able to do if they decide to not follow us?
Just as we were about to leave work for the tents, I heard my name and it was the lady from the travel agency with my hotel reservation and Brit Rail Pass. Yah, I don’t have to remember to go the gate at 6pm on Thursday.
I woke up in the middle of the night with a start thinking that we had forgotten to bring in the giraffe money.
I also had a great dream where I was at a wedding rehearsal as a bridesmaid and went down the aisle with a pink and orange bouquet. Then I was in a marvelous house/museum with a staircase that would do justice to my Victorian dress. The next thing I was at my wedding with my original bouquet and as I was ready to go down the aisle, I came across other bouquets in purple and white with tags indicating it was for the Stanfield wedding. I took the brides’ bouquet and went down the aisle. On the brides’ side of the aisle, I saw friends that I recognized with wrapping paper around them. The funniest ones were Hal and Ron from Denver who were frantically wrapping individual presents. From the number I saw, when I said hello to them, I indicated that I thought they would be a salad set. Hal’s face just fell because I had guessed correctly. It was a lovely dream and I felt happy all day.
Thursday, November 16
The morning duties were combined as we tried to prepare for the models. Sure enough, we had forgotten the giraffe money, and it was all of 20 rand. I turned it in and got my drawer for today. We cleaned the pens and by the time we were done, the models arrived. Casey and Erin went with the cubs to the bottom of the pasture for the shoot. I stayed behind, not unhappily, and did giraffe duty and earned the park 130 rand. Both giraffe’s were up at the fence today and happily eating pellets. Gambit ate 8 bags before he stood back and allowed Purdy her turn.
When the models were done with the cubs, the staff drove up in a truck to lure the giraffe’s back down the hill. I loaded into the truck and with 6 bags of white bread, we went down the hill with Purdy in hot pursuit. Anytime we had to slow down for an obstacle and she would get close to the drivers side, he would hand a slice of bread out to her. It was a stitch and we finally got to see them run in all their glory. My biggest piece of gold from his placement is my new adoration and affection for everything giraffe. Gambit followed as well and ended up being the giraffe in the shots. The photographer was using three models to represent a family in an advertisement for a local shopping mall. Alex, the staff member, kept putting slices of bread into their hands or in the crooks of their arms to get the giraffe’s head in the shot.
Kara, Erin and I had two bags of white bread to keep Purdy occupied higher up the hill. We ended up taking out one slice at a time, holding most of it in our hand and gradually allowing her to have more of the slice. Between the two of them, the giraffes had 6 bags of bread gone within 10 minutes. We had a few slices left, so Alex put some on our head for the giraffes to eat off our hats. Silly but fun.
Photo – Purdy and hat
The afternoon was very slow so I did some litter picking and went into the pen with the 6 with Kara. She adores the hyaena, Keto, and it is reciprocated. When it came time for us to feed in the afternoon, we ended up with all six of the animals in the air lock and us in the pen. Finally, Angie lured them away from the air lock with an additional bowl of food along the side of the fence.
Zahra made an authentic curry for dinner and it was pretty hot. I fished all the chilis out so that it won’t be absolutely blistering tomorrow.
We had a bit of an incident at the camp today. Ornica, the staff member in charge of the tents, has been off for the last two days. The last time she was off, the phones went missing. Even when she was around, there has been some food disappearing from the kitchen when no one is there. We have had workman in camp for the last two days and we would try and appear at unexpected times just in case. Today, the workman ended up waking Erin and Casey from naps to ask for access to the kitchen that appears to have the only power point in the area that they can access. They finally agreed to open the kitchen but would not leave it open, as they had to go back to work. They finally locked up and left with the men shouting insults and trying to pull the cord from under the door.
There have been several instances of misunderstandings and hard feelings between the volunteers and some of the workers. There are plans a foot to speak to Ian before we go with some ideas of how to ease the conflict.
Based on the lack of guest volume over the last two days, I feel that the volunteers are truly redundant at this volunteer placement. We walked past 5 staff people today who were standing and chatting while we were being called to clean a pen that could easily have been done by the staff. It is our understanding that after the current set of volunteers leave, that no new ones will come through the end of the year to make room for paying guests in all the tents.
Friday, November 17
Spent most of the day revising the documents that Given uses to train the volunteers. I was pleased I could help and Given printed off the documents so that the entire volunteer team could proof them.
Went out of pizza at 4Ways Mall with Given and had a really good time. I think Given heard lots of things that he did not need to know about women during some of the side conversations.
Got back to find the neighbors, 3 couples in the tents next to us. Whooping and drinking, they finally button holed Erin to ask for the key to the kitchen. When it was denied (the guests are only to use the bbq area and the outside sink) they became abusive.
Later in the night, I heard Casey speaking to them about not going under the fence into the park for their own safety. Again, more abuse and rocks thrown at the tent. At one point, I thought I heard Given’s voice and the next day found out that he had been summoned. Poor Given. One of the problems with living on site, you get called at all hours to handle things. This is a difficult situation as you have two groups of people with totally different orientations sharing the same living space, but not all the same amenities. The guests are there for a good time and to party and the volunteers are there to work and get enough sleep for the next day.
Saturday, November 18 – Last day of work for me
LOTS OF RAIN TODAY!
As this was my last day, I was trying to do a little of everything and to say good-bye. My main goodbyes were to be with Purdy and Gambit, my new loves in Africa. I fed them each a bag of pellets and every time I left the platform, Purdy would follow me down the fence looking for more pellets. She was finally distracted by several groups of people with bags of pellets.
I was asked to help rearrange Ohno’s cage to give him leopard enrichment. This meant untying all the ropes and repositioning his tire swing, suspended barrel and ramp log. Luckily, Kara is very good at knots so we had it done in no time. Ohno seemed to like it and spent some time investigating his new space.
Next, I took my computer into the back office and used the desk to type in the revisions from last night. During my typing the rain descended in sheets and pretty much continued the rest of the day.
As I exited the office, Angie said we were all going on a game drive. It was continuing to bomb rain with 5-minute gaps, but the new tour guide needed to practice so we all went. Same route and species as before but we got to see several new things. First, we finally got to get close to the Black Wildebeest that we had not seen up close before. Not the one’s that you normally think of when you hear wildebeest, but wonderful just the same.
We also saw a new little Springbok, probably only 5 days old. A one horned Oryx who, for whatever reason, did not want them on his piece of land was herding the baby and the mom. The other thing we saw was two-day-old Blasbok, very cute and tiny. We also got to see the 4 lion camps again and due to the rain and chilly weather, all the cats were active and up. We saw two lovely male lions and roaring and proclaiming their territory. The young male that had been sequestered in camp 3, is now within the pride. Time will tell if the big girls in the Chinese take-away will accept him. The lionesses were just a big as I remembered and as we lined up to exit the camp, one of the lioness was chewing on the rear bumper of the car ahead of us. I wonder if they will be able to claim lion chew marks from their auto insurance?
NOTE TO SELF – when offered a chance to go on a drive that you have already done, DO IT as there is always something new to see
Over the last two days, we have had the trio of smallest cubs in an outside pen and in view of the public. They are doing really well with their bowls of pellets in milk and little Swazi, who had been such a poor eater with the bottle, is going great guns. He is still ADD and needs help remembering where the bowl is. I have fed him the last two days and as long as you keep a vigil for him and keep bringing him back, he feeds fine. I even scrapped the last little bits of kibble up for him and let him eat out my hand. Very nice. During the last feed, Nia and Zam, while I was feeding Swazi, kept upsetting their bowls and it spread all over the floor. Not a problem for the cubs, they just ate it off the floor and as soon as Swazi had guzzled his down, he went over to help them. There are angry little faces and little paws that strike out if any cub comes too close to someone else’s feed bowl.
I went by all the animals’ pens one last time and asked Francis to take special care of all these special animals. I know that they are in good hands with him. Little Jake the Jackal has grown over the past week and really has a personality and looks more like a little fox, than a kitten. We keep telling him to drink his milk so that he can become big and strong.
After the game drive, the sky really opened and it poured. This gave me the opportunity to finish reading my book Eragon (about a dragon) so that I could leave it for the others.
Princess gave me a certificate to show that I had worked at the park and a color photo book of the animals at the park. I said goodbye to Ornica and thanked her for her assistance with our tents.
As I got ready to leave, I was a little sad, but was also looking forward to two days in a nice hotel with a double bed, wireless connection and little bottles of things in the bathrooms. It makes a change from tents and little frogs sharing my shower.
Ginnie was right on time and I was at the Courtyard by 7pm. Right across from a mall that has a huge African market every Sunday, it is a good location for my last two nights in Africa. Well, for this trip anyway.
Giraffe’s, as a ruminant, have the four chambered stomach, are called bulls, cows and calves as appropriate and have no vocal cords and make no sounds. Sexually mature at 7, they can live to 30 years. Gestation is 14-15 months and it usually only 1 young. The baby can be 6 feet at birth.
Cheetah’s – while they look like cats, they do not have retractable claws making them closer to dogs. They are probably a distinct group to themselves with characteristic of both. The two distinguishing characteristics include the black lines from their eyes that look like tear lines and their sleek body and tucked up waist. They are also the only large cat that purrs. Litters from 3-7 are common.
Hyena – while they look like dogs, their closets relative is the mongoose, which is a member of the cat family. They are not hermaphrodites and both sexes carry a penis and scrotum. The females’ phallus is more of an external birth canal and there is nothing in their scrotum. Apparently, female hyenas have a high level of testosterone causing the dimorphism. They are very loyal and remember their special trainers and friends, better than the lions. Usually a pair is born and if they are the same sex, the stronger one kills the other. The pups are sighted and with teeth and can be left in the den immediately after birth.
The term black panther is really a black leopard. When you look at them in the light, you can see the faint rosettes of pattern under their black. The other big black cat is the black jaguar, and again, you can see the jaguar pattern under their black.
Lions – the females hunt and a pride can have more than one breeding male. The females are amazingly large, almost the size of a couch in length. Their nails are retractable.
Deer in general – if their habitat is in the trees or forest, only the males will have antlers, if they are plains animals, both male and female will carry horns. While this was told to be about Africa, I can almost guess this is the same for deer on all continents
Sunday, November 19 –
Lovely breakfast including eggs, bacon, croissant, juice and potato cakes that had a little mouth and two eyes. If no one is at breakfast tomorrow, I may take a picture.
Spent the time after breakfast finishing up the last post cards. It suddenly hit me the size and scope of this trip. It made me feel humble and proud that I had been given this opportunity and I took it. Some tears that I think surprised my nearest neighbors.
Today was spent at the market looking for those last minute things and trying to get my tax receipts in order to tomorrow at the airport. I will also ship most of it home, probably at quite a cost, but at least I won’t be carrying it.
I did a little laundry but am still waiting for the drying to free up. Two washers and only one dryer. Every time I left the room, the key would not work again, so it was another trip to the office. Hopefully, that will end soon as I want to go to sleep soon.
I should be loading my blog but all I want to do is watch tv and sleep. Tomorrow morning will be blog time and I will go to the airport extra early in order to get more blogging done.