Thanks to Aunt Jessica’s amazing connections we were able to spend today behind the scenes at the Riverside Wildlife Rescue Center.
Have you ever wandered around a pet store and wondered- what people do when those baby crocodiles and python snakes they bought, grow up to be adults. Unfortunately, a lot of the time they abandon them at places like this or worse yet, they let them go in non native areas. Luckily there are animals lovers like the people we met today who dedicate there lives to ensuring these animals have a safe place to go.
This place really was amazing and a little scary with so many little hands and so few adults to keep them in check! Maria had to eventually be taken to the car to ensure she left the facility with all her digits in tack.
We came face to face with so many awesome creatures.
The most surreal experience was Leo the Lion. Imagine staring into the eyes of a lion with nothing but a chain link fence between the two of you. Luckily our group was armed with whole chicken pieces and Leo’s favourite…pork! It was amazing to see him eat these things bones and all in a matter of seconds. We were stunned to hear the Leo eats 70 pounds of meat a day. He is one expensive dinner date!
We also got to interact with Jasmine and Jaffar. These playful tigers were a joy to watch but they were not happy when we moved on to some of the other animals. About 5 minutes later the guide was giving us the history on a different animal when she yelled “RUN RUN RUN!” We had been briefed earlier that the tigers can spray up to 15 feet and that the smell is much worse than skunks. Despite the moment of hesitation, and the large number of children who seemed to freeze in place, we all managed to clear the spray zone just in time. Kudos to the trainer for seeing what was about to happen and providing the warning in time- despite being in a completely different enclosure with another dangerous animal and 10 of us hovering around her.
There were numerous animals in the facility and the guides were so knowledgeable about the complete history of every one. It was a wonderful experience. We concluded the experience in the reptile room where everyone got the chance to handle baby crocodiles. We declined the opportunity to play with the snakes 🙂