OK - now on to the seriously good times because this experience was worth all the money we paid for all the other crazy places combined. The Virginia Safari Park is basically a drive through petting zoo. It's an open range zoo -- you pay admission and buy buckets of feed at the gate and then drive through and all the animals come up to your car window and you reach out and feed them by hand. For an animal lover like me, It. Was. Awesome.

As you drive in, all the animals come running - even the fat ones.

And then they stick their heads in your vehicle to get at your bucket because there isn't a shy one in the entire place.

Or better yet they get you to drop the bucket on the ground so they don't have to follow you like this:

Better still, they yank the entire bucket filled with feed out of your husband's hand so the greedy little beggars can have it all to themselves and not share it with the seven dozen other animals that are mobbing your car. I'm not saying that happened, I'm just sayin'.

I now know what it might feel like to be a celebrity and surrounded by paparazzi.

This is the pot bellied pig The KoH thought we killed. There were about nine deer crowding my side of the window and after awhile, we realized if we didn't start moving we may never get out and the authorities would find our meatless, decaying bones a few days later under a pack of animals that had chewed open the doors of a Subaru Forester. So I, ever so slightly, stepped on the gas and tried to move us slowly through the pack. When the car moved forward, the deer backed off a couple of steps and one of them stepped on the pot bellied pig that was trolling for sloppy seconds of feed dropped on the ground. The pig squealed. And then The KoH squealed, "Ahhhhh!! Did we just run over the pig??" I had seen what had happened, so that was pretty funny to me, but I don't think The KoH will soon recover from the shock of possibly committing pig-i-cide.

I know I know the name for this animal with the curly horns, but I haven't been able to think of it. It's not a
gazelle, an impala, an oryx, a kudu, or a bongo (though we saw all of those there). The KoH tried to tell is it was an ibis, but we were all , "Yeah, I think that's a bird." Anyone care to enlighten me? So far Professor Google has failed me with searches for "curly horned African animal."

We got to feed the lorikeets, which was a huge kick, but a traumatic experience for The Dormouse. If you get a finger too close while they're eating, they'll nip you and while The Dormouse did really well with them for the first twenty minutes or so, one of them got her finger and broke the skin a little bit.

Here's where I get to feel like a heel in the parenting department because as she started wailing, "I want to get out of heeeeeeeeere!", I didn't want her to leave the aviary defeated and scared of birds. So I took her aside, away from the birds, for a few minutes and got her to calm down then encouraged her to try to feed them once more before we left. I never know if that's the right thing to do with a kid, but The Dormouse has relatively few irrational fears so maybe this technique is working. Or maybe she's just the easiest kid in the world and I'm a damn lucky parent.

The Caterpillar got nipped a time or two as well, but she was all, "Wah... hey wait... what was I doing? Oh, look, a bird!", so I don't think it traumatized her very much. Let's hear it for a short attention span!

I wish I could have snapped some photos of the times when I looked around and there were about fourteen birds perched all over The KnaveofHearts' head, arms, shoulders and hands. I was busy having camera problems as it kept yelling memory card full at me and every time I'd deleted enough bad photos to take another picture, I'd look up and they were gone.

These were really beautiful birds, but they were LOUD.

Here's one on my hand though:

So I feel it's only fair to warn you, dear reader, that I took about eight hundred photos on this trip and over the next few weeks I'll be featuring many of them here. If you are bored by people's vacation photos, I give everyone full permission to take a break from this blog for awhile. I have so many photos that came out to my liking and so many animals that I've seldom had a chance to get close to and the walls of my home are full that I don't know what to do with them other than post them here. It seems a shame to file them away on a flash drive and never look at them again. Hey, at least you're not invited over to the house for the slide show! Just kidding - like I have more than one friend who would come to my house.