A race of a different kind

A race of a different kind

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When did you last stand right next to a Bengal Tiger – very large, very alive, and very much out of his enclosure? It’s a spine-tingling experience.

He is magnificent. Rippling, as he pads powerfully along, you sense the mighty muscles waiting to erupt into heart-stopping action. When he moves, you stand still. For all the beauty and elegance of that powerful body, it is the head that is really awe-inspiring. Regal, dominating and fearless, it moves from side to side as he walks, missing nothing through deep and penetrating eyes.

As we entered Lory Park, in Midrand, we were greeted by the meerkats, one of whom scrambled up the mesh and looked into the Park as if to announce the arrival of more guests. Guests we were to a surprising selection of wildlife.

These included lions, tigers – both Bengal and Siberian – cheetahs, pumas, leopard, bob-cat, ocelot, fox, jackal, lemurs, monkeys, marmosets, badger, porcupine, crocodile and a large variety of birdlife. Amongst them were owls, eagles, condors, hornbills, crows – one of which said “hullo” – and a colourful collection of parrots, cockatoos and lorikeets. Many of them were out on stands next to the Tea-room. Noisy show-offs, they were a wonderful attraction, and very friendly. One climbed up my arm, onto my shoulder and then onto my cap. Another went into ecstasy when he was scratched. Others whispered sweet some-things into each other’s beaks, whilst another, named Basil, started to sing “Happy Birthday”!

I was surprised to see a lady walking a dog – only to find, on closer inspection, that it was the honey badger. He loved being out and, when she took him back to his enclosure, tried to climb up her leg and come out with her again. A wide-eyed lemur played hide-and seek with me, and kept appearing out of different parts of the foliage, advancing towards me, and then leaping away again. The owls were not amused! The crocodiles dozed in the sun, the swans guarded their youngsters, the porcupine bristled, the foxes slipped through their undergrowth and, from their rooftop, the lions joined the watch for food.

We had brought a picnic lunch with us so we sat at one of the tables, under the trees, and watched the birds and the tigers next to us, and listened to the crow. I’m sure that he could also swear in one of the other official languages!

The site is very well laid out, with paved walkways. A great deal can be seen, and heard, without having to walk any distance at all. There are places to sit and relax in the shade, a tea room with a fair menu, a play area for children, and secure parking. We spent four hours there and could happily have spent longer – being enriched by the wonder of this treasury of creation – each species unique, irreplaceable and inimitable.

I was impressed to see how many people were supporting different animals. Well done indeed!
Well done also to the Race against Extinction group who are racing against the extinction of critically endangered Tigers. Their website is worth a visit, to understand why it is so important. We are so privileged to still be able to see and appreciate all of this incredible wild life.

It’s close, it’s different, it’s enjoyable and it’s worthwhile. Treat yourselves. Make a difference.
Oh – and do look at Lory Park’s marvellous website.

“Find the beauty within you too. It defines you – not your circumstances”

Venue: Lory Park, Kruger Road, President Park, Midrand
Open: Tuesdays to Sundays 10h00 – 16h00
Cost: Adults R40; Pensioners R30; Children under 12 R30 (cash only – no credit cards)

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