Lions Tigers and Bears Oh My! – Jeffreys Bay, South Africa

Sweet surfer girl Mackenzie patiently helped me unravel my head of braids which, to my surprise, had started dreading. I could have made a Chewbacka suit with the amount of hair that I lost while combing it out in the shower. Ya, a bit gross but lucky me, my crimped mane puffed out like a lion made for some interesting photo ops at the Lion Park.

Kenz, Andy, and I headed off one sunny morning to check out the lions, (not tigers here unfortunately), zebras, giraffes and wildebeests. The park ranger informed us that they were not allowing cars to enter in through the gates anymore as the lions have been “naughty” as of late.

We took one look at the groups of tourist peering through the double fences at the creatures and decided it was time to turn on the charm. After a bit of convincing, he had us sign an indemnity form releasing them from damage or injury resulting from the animals. (A bit unnerving but hey, it`s a lion park!) Finally, he let us through the gates into the giant hillside pen housing a dozen large females who were just in the middle of lunch.

They pretty much ignored us to their slabs of freshly (but still stinky) hacked up wildebeast. I am talking entire rib cages and half eaten heads being gnawed on, creating bloodstained fur around their mouths and monstrous paws. Much to the amazement of the watching crowd, we slid down the windows to get a better shot of the pack who sat not more than 15 feet away.

We all crunched up our noses at the rotting flesh festering in the unobstructed sun and listened to the powerful crunching of the thick bones between their fangs. Everything was fine and dandy until all of a sudden three of the group decided to “play”, chasing down our car as we weaved through the windey roads screaming as our adrenaline pulsed through our veins.

It was very exciting but the speed and sheer size of these beautiful but not to be mistaken for very dangerous creatures, prompted us to end our little jaunt. Just listening to the throaty growl rumbling loudly behind our car told us that we had overstayed our welcome. With a heavy swat of the razor sharp clawed paw, we were outta there.

We visited the baby cubs who were as cute and cuddly as giant kittens until I put down my water bottle. The fuzzy paws gripped that bottle and that was that. The 20 cubs claimed their newfound toy playing keep away tossing it between them squirting water everywhere. They are not so different from kids, having water fights and making fun out of the most unexpected things. Best was the picture of the new fuzzy `do` of mine and my long talon like claws beside the “Danger – Ferocious Animal” sign. Grrrrrrrrrr!

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