Last Christmas (some time in the previous century, before All This), Jacob and Dallas gave our kids a gift certificate for the Virginia Safari Park. Even though it’s not that far away, it had always been one of those places that we’d like to go to sometime…but never got around to. We were going to check it out last spring, but the whole state was shut down. Even if the park was open, unnecessary travel of any kind was strongly discouraged. The summer was hot and constantly rainy. Last week, as the weather started to cool down, we decided to go before the weather solidly shifted to winter mode.
I can’t believe we put it off this long. We had the best time. The part I had heard about from others was a drive-through section, where you get buckets of animal feed and slowly roll through a path where llamas, elk, deer, pigs, buffalo, emus, and many other animals put their heads into your window and munch. I’ve never been to anything like it. Some of the animals were aggressive; the llamas reminded me of when we had goats and they’d shove their way into the car while I was buckling Petra and Silas into their car seats. The emus were intense, too. But some of them, like the fallow deer and the young moose, had to be enticed.
Touching a yak, I thought of the lines from “The First Dream,” by Billy Collins: “how he had put his arms around the neck / of a beast that the others could touch / only after they had killed it with stones, / how he felt its breath on his bare neck.” Touching an animal that is typically completely inaccessible was extraordinary.
The kids giggled the whole time. Petra said her face hurt from smiling so hard.
The safari park had another section, which I didn’t even know about, where there’s a walk-through zoo. That was extremely fun, as well.
Since there were lots of other people in the walk-through section, we masked up. It was fine, though; the kids did a great job of keeping their distance from people.
Petra’s favorite part was the year-old cheetah cubs. They were gorgeous. At one point, they started playing with the big ball, and they looked just like kittens! Adorable.
Petra also enjoyed climbing this pine tree. She insisted on coming back to it three times. She’s getting to be a good climber—on her last adventure, she went at least thirty feet up.
Closing with a gallery of cute animal pictures, but I just want to draw attention to this because it was something I had never seen before: A baby joey in the pouch!
It’s kind of weird, though…to have these animals from all over the world here in Virginia.