Petting Lion Cubs and Cheetahs in Jobug

After my last projects in Serbia and Tanzania, where I had a very little time to enjoy the countries despite being there for long periods of time, I was expecting to not really get to see South Africa in the last three months. But, my project manager was a pleasant surprise and I have seen and done more than I could ever imagine! So I have a lot to share in the next few posts. And these are the reasons I love me job, no matter how demanding it can get.

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Our very first weekend, we went to the Lion & Rhino Park (not the dreaded Lion Park that’s been in the news of late) that was just 45 minutes outside of Sandton. After a bit of hijinks from right hand drive manual car we finally made it to our first adventure.  From the minute we entered the park there was a lot to see, from ostriches to kudus to zebras to the tiny meerkat. I was brought back to memories of my safari in Tanzania last October. The beautiful part of this park is that there are many paths through the winding dirt road where you can encounter animals roaming free, but also the opportunity to see more rare finds in the animal enclosures.

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Further in there was an area more like a petting zoo for children. But it was just as captivating for adults. My five person team (all 27 and over) can attest to this! The above pair was quite funny: the sheep and rhino who were completely inseparable. An unlikely paid, but not for one second did we see them further apart than this. It was nice to touch the rough leathery skin of the rhino. Something you can’t quite imagine for just seeing them from afar.

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By far our favorite part of the park was the animals we could pet. We were more excited than the children to get our turn in the pen of this 14-year-old cheetah. (Who we learned died a few weeks later. He was pretty old.) Hearing the soft purr get stronger as we pet him was not very different from a domestic cat. Though his fur was a bit more corse.

IMG_8203The lion cubs were absolutely amazing! Three little white babies with bright wide eyes. They were so soft, cuddly and playful, I could not imagine them growing into the ferocious beast they will become. It was hard to get us out of this pen. Such an amazing experience. In a few more months they would be too big to pet. Although we only had one free day that weekend this visit made for a fantastic first weekend in South Africa!

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