Africa in Arizona

Trip Start Jul 15, 2008
1
15
21
Trip End Jul 30, 2008


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Flag of United States  , Arizona
Thursday, July 24, 2008

Today we drove a half hour east of here to Camp Verde, Arizona to an animal park called Out of Africa.  The premise of this place is that they have set up a 110 acre facility similar to African terrain.  That works if you can imagine the African terrain with 10 foot chain link fences everywhere.  They have a decent collection of animals.  The standard fan favorites were all there; lions, tigers, giraffes, zebras, gazelles, and of course slithery reptiles.
   
They also had a pair of brown bears and a pair of grizzly bears.  Neither is native to Africa, or this part of Arizona for that matter.  All four bears are rescue animals from bad situations so I guess that is why they have them.  Although bears are one of my personal favorites, they just did not seem to fit in with what the park was about.
The bears along with chain link fence, and the fact that the animal trainers doubled has the tram drivers combine to give the place a feel of one of those old time road side attractions.  That is down the side.  Now for the upside.

You are close enough to the animals that if you are dumb enough you can reach across the two sets of fence and touch the tigers or bears.  I know there are lawyers around here since this place is built next to the Yavapai County courthouse.  I guess they are just not as paranoid down here as they are back home.  In fact, as one parent found out, kids can get close enough to be sprayed by a tiger.  It is a good lesson for why parents should keep an eye on their kids and not let them run wild.

                                                               Tiger

The big draw ticket here is a show called Tiger Splash.  We have never seen anything like it before, and I doubt we will again.  Here is the deal.  You sit down in Tiger Splash Arena.  In front of you is a chain link fenced area with an in-ground swimming pool, some green grass, and 4 very large tigers.  Enter 6 humans.  All have issues or they would not be locked in the fenced area with 4 tigers.

                                                              Surrounded

Three of the 6 humans are introduced as "prey".  I guess those 3 lost a bet back stage, or Yavapai County District Court, conveniently located next door, has a very interesting work release program.  The "prey" then gets the tigers interested in them to the point that they are being chased.  Just before the tiger catches the prey, the prey jumps into the pool which is supposed to be safe.  Of course the tiger can jump in also, but it appeared the tigers were less aggressive in the pool.  
                                                              Prey Dive
After the tigers get bored with chasing humans, the humans then get balloons on sticks to further entice the tigers to chase them.  This works about the same way.  Just before the tiger catches them they jump into the pool.  The tiger gets the balloon and not the human.  Of course getting the balloon back away from the tiger causes more interaction which at times can get a little tense, but they make it work. 
               
                                                             Leap
After the show is over with all humans and human body parts accounted for, the place is nice enough to let the patrons feed the tigers-for a small fee.  We of course felt compelled to let Sarah feed the tiger so she got to feed one named Harvest. 

                                                                Feed Me

We then saw some other minor shows and went on Safari where Sarah got to feed a giraffe.   She thought this was cool.  I just thought it was gross.

All in all it was a good day.  There were the usual encounters with 2 legged dumb animals like the one who had her ringing cell phone in her bra during a show and would not turn it off, or the lady who pushed Sarah's hand out of the way when she was trying to feed the giraffe.  I wanted to put the sign for the restroom on the tiger cage for them, but that was probably going a bit far.  Fortunately, I will not have to deal with them on my island.
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