Saturday, June 18, 2011

Road Trip #2

On Tuesday, June 7, 2011, Judy and I took Grandma Great on a road trip to Ohio. She was 87 on June 13th. Our first destination was a tour of The Wilds located near Cumberland, Ohio.

The Wilds is one of the largest and most innovative wildlife conservation centers in the world. Located on nearly 10,000 acres in southeast Ohio, it is home to rare and endangered species from around the world living in natural, open-range habitat, as well as home to hundreds of indigenous species. After a stormy trip to the facility, the rain stopped (temperatures dropped from the 80's to the 60's) and we hopped on our tour bus.

Grandma Great was ready to see the rare and exotic animals that are being protected and researched. This facility is part of the Columbus Zoo research program.

There are wonderful critters in this special environment. The area is a reclaimed strip mine. The folks have done a great job in developing savanna- like habitats.

The Bactrian Camels soon came into view. These camels are endangered. With less than 1,000 wild Bactrian Camels left, these are one of the most severely threatened of the large mammal species. Scientists from The Wilds have been working in Mongolia to survey the remaining populations of wild Bactrian Camels.

Our bus driver and tour guide was Adam Bishop. He was an outstanding young man.

The Wilds has created a mid-sized carnivore conservation center. Arriving at the center we encountered the African Wild dogs. Fewer than 5,000 of these dogs remain in the wild. We ascended the ramps to observe a rare family of cats.

Love this sign!

Grandma Great and Miss Judy were looking at the cheetahs. The Wilds has a breeding program that concentrates on these endangered critters. (Only 10,000 remain in the wild.)

In this same center the endangered Dholes were housed. These are dogs from India and Southeast Asia.

There were several deer species at The Wilds including Bactrian Deer and Eld's Deer which are both endangered species. We observed from afar several Indochina Silka Deer which are now possibly extinct in the wild. The Pere David Deer is an example of a critter which was extinct in the wild by the late 1800's. Almost 100 years later, this species was reintroduced into protected reserves in parts of China where they once roamed.

Grandma Great's highlight of the trip were the giraffes. There are three sub-species of giraffes at the facility - the Masai, the reticulated, and the Rothschild's. Chris, a management staff member, stopped by our bus to feed the giraffes.

Chris decided to see if Mickey, a reticulated giraffe, would feed from the bus. He had never tried this before.

Grandma Great was excited as she was able to feed the beast romaine lettuce.

The species below has been extinct in the wild since the mid-seventies. This is a Scimitar-Horned Orynx. This species is well suited for its desert habitat (North Africa) conserving water by not sweating until it reaches 115 degrees and limiting water loss through specialized kidneys.

Other antelopes on the site were the Common Eland, Fringe-Eared Orynx, and the Sable Antelope. We thought the critter below was very interesting. It was a population of Sichuan Takin from Western China. Takin inhabit the same dense bamboo forests as the better known Giant Pandas.

The facility housed other animals such as the Southern White Rino and the Greater One-Horned Asian Rhino. Zebras and wild horses included Greny's Zebra, the Persian Onager, and Przewalski's Wild Horses. We did see a Banteng from a distance. The Banteng is an endangered cow from Southeast Asia and Indonesia. I should mention that The Wilds also has a population of the American Bison.

Upon returning from our tour (which was around 3 hours long), we had a snack in the cafe area.

A person can not leave without the obligatory trip through the gift shop. When were were shopping, a TV crew appeared and interviewed us as part of their special on The Wilds. I am certain that tourist traffic increased due to our interview!

The Wilds is adding a zip line tour as part of the nature experience.

It was a great trip. We left The Wilds and headed to our Motel located in Berlin, Ohio. Next posting - The Amish Country.


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