Wild about the zoo!

16 Mar

This week, I journeyed to Brevard Zoo for a special assignment that left me with a whole new impression of zoos. I grew up with a zoo in my backyard. Riverbanks Zoo in Columbia, S.C. was a familiar stomping ground throughout my childhood, but I have to say it’s been a while since my last visit.

Having an impression that zoos are pretty standard, I got my socks blown off at Brevard Zoo.  Photojournalist Dave and myself were both surprised.  After snapping out of my drowsiness from the ride, I found myself surrounded by rhinoceroses, giraffes and paddling a kayak!  The best part, I got to touch the animals!

Brevard Zoo giraffe

Rafiki means 'friend' in Swahili and boy was he ever!

 The giraffes were my favorite! This is a picture of me feeding a Maasai giraffe named Rafiki. His name, which you may remember from The Lion King, means ‘friend’ in Swahili. The name really fit Rafiki, too. Animal keepers say he was raised by humans from his birth after his mother abandoned him and it made him especially comfortable around humans.

He loved the crackers and bananas we fed him and also liked to be petted. Did I mention that his breath literally blew my hair back as he leaned in to sniff me. I was quite smitten with him!

I also had a chance to pet and feed the white rhinos in another area of the zoo and learned more about their endangered status in the wild. They enjoyed having their backs rubbed with coarse plastic bristle brushes. I could not believe the size of these animals! The giraffes can grow as many as 16 feet tall, which rhinos get into the 1,300 to 3,600 pound range! 

The kayak tour which allows guests to paddle through the Expedition Africa exhibits and look at the animals. It’s the only one of its kind in the country! 

It was fascinating to learn that most kids stop coming to the zoo around the age of eight, but Brevard Zoo is working to get more of the older kids to stay with the zoo throughout their lives with more interactive and diverse experiences to offer.  I think they got this ‘kid’ excited about the zoo again for sure 🙂 There’s just something intrinsically good about taking some moments to stop and smell the roses, admire a rainbow or pet a giraffe. For me, it renews a sense of awareness about precious creations and the awesome Creator.

Up-close with Rafiki the Maasai Giraffe

"Nice to meet you Rafiki"

See you in the morning!

Bridgett

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