I don’t like zoos. I hate caged animals. But the San Diego Wild Animal Park (apparently now called the San Diego Zoo Safari Park) is a little different than most. It’s open and free and spotting the animals on the Tram ride is a bit of luck and chance. I’ve seen the great cats once or twice in 20 years, because simply put, they ain’t coming out to play in the heat of the day.
And while I’m not a fan of the shows where wild animals are brought out to show to kids, I am a fan of their safari in that the animals all hang out together. Provided they don’t eat each other.
If you take the Africa Tram Tour, you may be lucky enough to spot the cheetahs, the only carnivores allowed to hang out with the vegetarian animals. Why? Well as it turns out, a cheetah doesn’t hunt for fun. It hunts if it’s hungry. So if you keep the cheetah well fed, it just hangs out and runs for run but won’t hunt. This flies in the face of years of evolution though, and all the other animals in the area are a bit suspect of the cheetahs by their nature.
And then you have the giraffes.
You see the giraffes are the early warning signs for the animals. If they start running, the other animals think the tall guys must have seen something, so they take off running too. This makes sense and is a great idea. Except that at the Safari Park, the giraffes apparently get bored and sometimes decide to play pranks on the other animals.
I’ve actually seen this happen. Every one of the animals knows the cheetahs are there. All the giraffes have to do is take off running away from the cheetahs and all the animals sprint off thinking it’s a meal time, and they have no interest in being eaten! The giraffes will abruptly stop and just watch them all sprint off. I imagine they’re laughing.
A year and a half ago, a man found out that cheetahs really aren’t all that terrifing when one let him scratch it’s head. Photographer Chris Du Plessis had one of the best experiences ever. Mtombi just wanted to see what he was doing.
That’s how animals and humans should live.
No one eating each other.