Every Day Is A Gift.
Saturday 9: Feliz Navidad

Field Trip: Lion Country Safari


On Wednesday, Sweet Pea Academy took our first-ever field trip 108 miles north to Loxahatchee, Florida, to visit Lion Country Safari.

Lion Country Safari

After we checked in with our Groupon certificates at the entrance, we were given a listen-along CD and directed to the drive-through safari path toward the Las Pampas section of the drive.

We saw all manner of exotic species, from Brazilian tapirs to Aldabra tortoises of Madagascar, the flightless rhea, and several species of ungulates.

Lion Country Safari-001

Sophia, Chloë and Jack all agreed that the lions were among their favorite creatures, but Victoria said the giraffes were hers. I loved the entire thing - no favorites for me! However, it was pretty cool to have this male lion pacing just feet in front of us, stopping to examine us inside our car, with nearby mating pairs canoodling in the rest of the Lion Exhibit.


Many places in Ruaha National Park, Kalahari Bushveldt, and the rest of Lion Country Safari had new babies on display, from these impala antelopes to squirrel monkeys and more. They were so cute!

Lion Country Safari-002

The ostriches were one of our favorite animals to watch, because they would gallop around, chasing after each other, as if to give us something fun to watch. And, like the giraffe later, and a zebra, they crossed directly in front of our car.

{My Nikon battery was not charged, so all of the photos are from my Samsung Galaxy S5; it's not the best camera, but it'll do in a pinch!}


Sophia's second favorite were the zebras in Hwange National Park. This one might have been pregnant, as she was visibly heavy on both sides, so it would not have surprised me to learn that she was with zebralet!


It was hard to get a decent picture of the chimps on their exclusive island, because of their blending in well with the habitat. They are not swimmers, so the water around their island keeps them in place.

The zoologists visit all the primates on a daily basis and give them new playthings and puzzles, to keep them active, keep them from getting bored, and keep their minds active. Usually, solving the puzzle meant a food treat for the animals, so they had great incentive to keep trying!


The white-handed gibbon was a bit camera-shy, but I managed to get one or two photos. I'm a primate lover, of course, and could have watched them all day!

Lion Country Safari-003

The giraffes walked in right in front of our car, crossing the street just a few feet from us. It was all terribly cool, and I was fascinated.


We passed these two camels in their closed-for-the-day exhibit on our way out of the drive-through section of the park. The kids were disappointed that they weren't able to ride them, but I was not!

Lion Country Safari-004

After we got out and entered the walk-through safari park, the first thing we did was find some very hungry koi that cost 25¢ to feed a handful of pellets. I gave each of the kiddos a quarter for that, and the ibises swooped in for their share of koi food.

Lion Country Safari-005

The squirrel monkey exhibit was another favorite for the kids. There were two new babies, from August and September of this year, and their antics were just precious. I could hardly tear the children away to see more of the reserve!


We found this enormous rhinoceros iguana that I would have guessed was a komodo dragon, but no! Could've knocked me over with a feather then.


We visited the Education Center after that, and Chloë marveled at the softness of the zebra pelt. We played matching games between several species of animals' skulls and their names, and I got about half wrong!


These were a variety of differently-sized eggs, from the largest ostrich egg on the bottom right, to the ruby-throated hummingbird egg just to the immediate left of that, and everything in between. Really interesting to note the various shapes among the species.


Despite their malodorous presence, Sophia insisted I take some pictures of the flamingos. She may be newly a horse-crazed girl, but she's still a bird-lover at heart.


The African Spurred Tortoises lived up to their reputations and moved soooo.... sloooowly. I got tired just watching them.


Another favorite of Sophie's, she was disappointed not to be able to get the Scarlet macaws to answer her!


Chloë and Sophia found this little mining exhibit, but we didn't buy the $5-8 bag of gems and rocks, because money's tight right now. Maybe next time. Chloë was intrigued by the idea that she could actually go mining for something, somewhere, on her own someday...


I bought a bunch of Romaine lettuce for the goats in the petting zoo and gave a large leaf to each of the four kids. Victoria thought it was so funny when a goat wolfed down her entire piece in one gulp and nearly took her hand with it! Sophie tried to rip hers into pieces to extend the experience, but that backfired when the goat moved on to larger pieces extended by the others. 

After, they entered the petting zoo to brush the goats, and we found one or two females who just had to be pregnant, themselves.



Next, I bought a feeding stick with bird seed and suet for the budgerigars (budgies) and told the kids to take turns feeding them. The attendant said the birds hadn't been fed yet that day and should swarm around the stick quickly to eat. We found them to be quite eager, indeed!


Sophie was so thrilled when a budgie landed on her stick and let her carry it around for a few minutes. The look on her face was priceless. She LOVED that!


Jack had a hard time lifting up his stick to the perched birds overhead, so I ended up having to lift him up myself. We got 'er done, and he was satisfied. All-in-all, for a $1, we definitely got our money's worth of fun.


I had tried to discourage the kids from getting wet, since the air was a bit nippy, but my protests fell on deaf ears. First, they all danced around and got damp in the mister, and then they went over to the water pump and got even more soaked. Sophie even put her head under the dumping water! *tsk, tsk* Crazy kids!


We found another photo-op exhibit where the kids took turns drumming and giving me a substantial headache... but they had fun, so I dealt. ;)


There was this giant lion statue that Jack wanted to sit on, and Chloë joined him. He was so freaked out, I was the only one he would let near him to help him down.


Sophia had to take her turn on the lion, too. Naturally.


I enjoyed watching Victoria play the drum, as she was really getting into it!


Next up, we headed over to the paddleboats, which were free to use with the cost of our admission. Sophia insisted on riding with me, Jack wanted his dad, and Chloë went with Victoria. We paddled around and around the fenced in laguna, and man, did my legs get tired! I should give up my nonexistent gym membership and just paddleboat all day...


Afterward, the four kids got on their own tween version of a party barge and paddled around in the watery paddock. That was fun... except only two people at a time could paddle, and of course they argued over whose turn it was! :\


All Victoria wanted to do was ride the Ferris Wheel after that, and so we girls made our way to the ride while the boys hung back. Victoria insisted on riding in her own gondola while the three of us girls rode in our own - and she became scared halfway through the ride! She moved into our gondola on the next opportunity.


Two or three - or maybe four - rides on this flying elephant ride followed the Ferris Wheel. They played miniature golf, but the course didn't hold their interest, so they didn't finish that game.


And that was pretty much it! We brought a picnic lunch and snacked during our field trip in the park, and then we stopped for Pizza Hut on the way home to Miami. Good times were had by all, and I look forward to returning some day!