Birds are such assholes, I thought as I ran from the giant emu chasing me at the Featherdale Wildlife Park this past Monday.
My handsome financial manager XFE had paid $1 AUS each for some kangaroo feed, which amounted to some dry grass-looking clippings in a plain sugar ice cream cone.
I could not wait to feed some of the waiting kangaroos and wallabies. I could barely sleep the night before because I was so freaking excited.
The drive seemed interminable, but was really about an hour with traffic. I practically skipped inside the park, but not before I accosted a nice old man in the car park who was holding an orphaned baby joey (don’t worry, he worked at the park).
After much petting and cooing, I finally made my way in, clutching my Featherdale Wildlife Passport to my chest. I stopped to take a picture with a diamond back python who was very fresh and kept dipping his tail into my shirt.
We walked on until — finally — my moment was here. We got to the kangaroo enclosure and there they were…..tons of them just hopping around in the side, their beautiful brown eyes sleepily blinking in the sun.
Mommies with their pouches full, babies, big male ones with some large anatomical details that wildlife photographer XFE captured on film for all of us.
I knelt to feed a docile and friendly looking kangaroo, who gently cupped the cone in his paws and started nibbling away, spilling the dry green feed all over the ground. I ran my hands over its dusty pelt, marveling at just how soft it was.
Out of the corner of my eye, I saw the large furry emu rise up off the ground and descend towards me. I stood up to my full height, sure that the unwelcome intruder would back off.
He did not. He kept coming at me, the sugar cone gleaming in his dark beady bird eyes. I took off. We repeated this maneuver several times. He finally won when I surrendered (or dropped) the cone by one of the kangaroos and his big stupid self made off with it.
Don’t worry….the kangaroos and wallabies at Featherdale are well fed.
Featherdale is an amazing place. I’m normally very reticent to go to a zoo. I don’t like to see the animals all sad and caged up or moping around concrete habitats. The last time I was at a zoo was Washington’s National Zoo and I found it very depressing.
But Featherdale was so great. It’s fairly small, but still roomy enough to hold a variety of animals. They had an unbelievable amount kangaroos, and wallabies, masses and masses of birds, including a peregrine and the very ornery emus. They also had, a crocodile, dingoes (who seemed like very sweet dogs), wombats, bilbies, quolls (adorable spotted little mammals) and tons of other animals that I’ve never seen before.
One of my favorites had to be the surprisingly cute Tazmanian devil.
These guys are very curious and restless and have to have a lot of stimulation.The park explained that they change up his environment frequently, hiding bones and other things throughout to give him stuff do do. When we saw him, he was running laps around his enclosure, burning off nervous energy. I felt a real kinsmanship with that little devil. I’m pretty sure he gets insomnia as well.
The real highlight highlight of the trip though, hands down, was the koalas. They had tons of them. And while you’re not allowed to hold them, you are allowed to pet them under strict supervision. They were so adorable, sleepily munching away at their eucalyptus leaves. They killed me with their cuteness.
We were standing next to one enclosure (and I use the term loosely – it was more like it was enclosed from humans, but not enclosing the animals), and a koala came over and sat on the wooden railing. After one visitor stood next to him for pictures, another guy moved in to stand next to the koala and it started climbing up on him! I got so excited. I was sure I was about to get some koala cuddling, but a wildlife worker swooped in and broke up the party, chastising all of us for letting a wild animal just climb on one of us.
But I swear, if that koala had been in my arms, me and that wildlife worker would have come to blows and I would have been thrown out for sure, with my personal bail bondsman XFE walking behind me, shaking his head, and the emu no doubt laughing his stupid tiny head off.
So I guess it was for the best.