We went to the Rotorura Zoo yesterday and had a fantastic time. Going to zoos in different countries is always exciting because you never know what to expect. In the US zoos have common themes and rules, but in other countries you might get closer to a wild animal or be able to feed some exotic creature.
At Paradise Valley we got to play with a lion cub! Little Chase was born in February and he has been interacting with the public for the last month. The zoo was really empty yesterday so we had lots of time to play with the cub. I was able to feed him, play with him and pet him, but we weren’t allowed to pick him up. He enjoyed playing with little stuffed animals, just like a kitten. He also rubbed against my legs as you would expect from a purring cat. He bit at my ankles – it tickled.
The poor little guy was all beat up. Apparently that it is common for lion cubs to injure themselves frequently. He had a gash above his eye where he fell onto a rock and he had a limp from a slipping during a leap. The little cub also had a hard time at home – his mother bit his ear not long after he was born. His mom had rejected him so he wasn’t able to spend as much time with the lion pride as the zoo keepers would have liked.
Hopefully things will go better for the baby lion, but it may not be a perfect life. The zoo keeper explained that a pride can only have two males and the pride at Paradise Valley Springs already has two men. Since they couldn’t find another home for little Chase a decision will have to be made as to which lion becomes castrated. I hope little Chase gets a chance to grow the thick mane and enjoy being a man.
The wildlife park has another feature that attracts visitors from all over – you get to watch the lion pride feed! At 2:30 every day they toss a bunch of meat into the lion pen. I wasn’t sure what to expect and was a little nervous it might be too gory, but it is tame enough for even a small child. They toss in small chunks of horse meat, one at a time. You don’t see angry lions ripping apart flesh or blood oozing from live animals. If you’ve been to a grocery store you’ve seen more blood than you’ll see at the lion feeding.
The feeding is really cool because you get to see the lion leap in the air to catch pieces of meat thrown their way. They growl and roar as other lions come near their food. They lick their paws and lips, providing great photo opportunities. Bring a camera with a good video feature because unless you have a fancy SLR you’ll want to catch all the excitement on video.
There is more to the zoo than just the lions, but they obviously captured my attention and Chase captured my heart. The park is beautifully landscaped with lots of streams and ponds filled with trout and eels. The lush vegetation and attracted dozens of birds. My favorite fan tailed bird fluttered around, but I still didn’t get a decent photo. I also saw a beautiful little yellow bird, which I believe is a yellow hammer. There is a small petting zoo, which includes alpaca and ponies! A treetop walk, where you can learn about various fauna.
I definitely recommend this to anyone who with children or likes lions!