Sunday, July 8, 2012

Vacation Day 3-July 5th afternoon

After we visited the Strategic Air and Space Museum and eating a picnic lunch on their scratchy grass in the tiny amount of shade, we headed over to the Lee G. Simmons Conservation Park and Wildlife Safari which is run by the Henry Doorly Zoo.  This wildlife park focuses on animals that are native to the area.  You drive through the park on a very rugged road and can get out at one area only.  The first animal that you see are elk.  We saw one elk walking as we got on the road but by the time we got down to the road it had disappeared.  We were disappointed.  The signs said that elk like to hang out by the pond in hot weather.  I looked over at the pond and wondered what those brown things in it were-if they were a plant but they were moving a lot.  I figured they couldn't be the elk but then as we got closer we realized that it was a pond full of elk.  This is what we saw on our first pass through the elk prairie.
It was so interesting because some of the elk would keep dipping their antlers down into the water.  None of them got out while we sat there and watched.  As we were leaving the park we noticed that some of the elk were out of the water so we drove through the elk and deer sections again.
After the elk prairie was the deer woods.  I won't bore you with a picture of a deer.  We only saw 3 on the first trip and they were just sitting on the ground resting.  On our way through the 2nd time we caught a deer relieving himself and they we watched him gallop (is that what deer do?) away.  They have fences in between all of these areas to keep the animals separated.  The pelican wetlands were next.  We got some great shots of pelicans.  Natalie was very fascinated with the pelicans.   I wasn't aware that pelicans lived in Nebraska.  I thought they were coastal birds but what do I know?
Then we got out of the car and walked into the eagle aviary.  Brian and I were surprised that there was nothing that kept the eagles from the people inside the aviary.  We saw 3 bald eagles inside!
Then we walked along the boardwalk that headed to the bear and wolf (in cages!).  We saw neither of them as it was unbearably hot and I'm sure they were hiding in the darkest, coolest spot they could find.  We had to tell Noah that the bear was put away for the day because he obsessed about the bear.  For some reason he thought the bear had to go to the doctor.  Along the boardwalk were screech owls, kestrels and another kind of owl.  The screech owls were so small and they lined up along the trunk of the tree-there were 5 of them on this side (there are 5 in the picture).
In the parking lot area they have a hands-on-corral.  Not sure why this part was necessary but you could go in and pet the goats and chickens.  Natalie wanted no part in this (she had just fallen and scrapped herself in various places) but Noah gladly pet the goats.  I include the following picture because Noah kept talking about the goats sleeping on top of each other.  We were trying to write post cards about the Des Moines zoo and he talked about the goats sleeping on top of each other.  I kept having to remind him that we saw that at the safari park.
The next area was called Crane Meadows.  There were tons of sandhill cranes as well as swans, ducks and other water fowl.  The next area was for bison.  They were all packed together in a tiny pond area as well.  I have never seen such a light colored bison before!

Back by the visitor's center there were 4 exhibits-one for bobcats, one for hawks, one for porcupines, and one for another animal I can't remember!  N2 enjoyed this park and looking at the animals.  I gave Noah a map toward the bison area and all he did for the rest of the trip was look at the map instead of out the window!

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