When I was a kid, there was a local joke that went like this:
“Did you hear they had to close down the zoo in Gentry, Arkansas?”
“No! What happened?”
“Their chicken died.”
Most of you who aren’t already familiar with the tiny community of Gentry should get the dumb joke merely because of the word ‘Arkansas’ that follows it. However, that joke could not be farther from reality.
Meet the Wild Wilderness Drive Through Safari – a place that my husband and I visit every year because we need animals like other people need yearly vacations. There is no better place to get our fix.
Yesterday my husband, Randy, and I took three of our young friends with us to the animal park so they could see the place for the first time. I know it will not be their last visit. Already, we have made tentative plans to come back in a month when the twin tiger cubs, Sabal and Sabine, will be old enough for human interaction.
Nearly every Spring, the animal safari in Gentry has baby animals that visitors can either hold, or see up close while the baby is being cared for. This year, we visited with a baby porcupine.
And Ringlet, a baby lemur. . .
. . . who preferred clutching people’s hair – lemur-style – as opposed to clutching fingers.
One only had to watch out for the surprise poo bombs that Ringlet had a tendency to shoot from her hatch when she got excited. I had a narrow escape when the woman pictured above lunged at my head and caught one in her hand before it could land in my hair. (It makes one wonder if this was a contributing factor in her christening. . .)
There was also Dinky. . .
. . . plus the usual assortment of baby goats . . .
. . . not to mention grown goats, sheep, and pigs (and friends feeding them) . . .
. . . along with zebras . . .
. . . kangaroos. . .
. . . camels . . .
. . . rhinos . . .
. . . llamas . . .
. . . and roaming rabbits mugging visitors for over-processed baked goods . . .
. . . to name only a few. We had even seen a baby hippo cuddling up with a pig for an afternoon nap.
The park has grown considerably over the years. My first visit was when I was nine years old. At that time, it had been mainly populated with emus that would steal your lunch when you weren’t looking. The emus haven’t changed much . . .
. . . They still have a burning need to see if you have anything edible. I managed to save my camera from spit, but the car’s windows did not fare as well.
The Wild Wilderness Animal Safari is still one of my favorite places to visit, even after all these years. Thank you, Gentry, for having so much more than a chicken. . .
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