Of cub cuddles and piles of poo


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Africa » South Africa » Gauteng
August 10th 2009
Published: October 20th 2009
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It's strange that the lion park is starting to feel like home. It seems normal to me to get up with the sunrise, shower in bathrooms patrolled by dive-bombing weird insects, eat breakfast outside and then walk out of the campsite, exchanging greetings with the wandering giraffes and tiptoeing across a cattle grid on my way to work! Tara managed to wake up in time for morning shift today so we all set off to clean the safari trucks this morning. With three of us it took less time than yesterday and we barely managed to make the job stretch into 40 minutes. We used our spare time to visit the cubs again. Poor Em-J, Chris and Nicole were on cleaning duty and were busy cleaning up the lovely mess the cubs had made in the night while the rest of us sat down to play with the cubs. The cubs got their breakfast, a disgusting looking mix of milk, biscuits and fresh pieces of horse meat. The cubs chewed, tore and slurped their way through their breakfast. Although we tried to make sure each cub got a bowlful the cubs themselves were more interested in pushing each other out of the way and stealing food from the other bowls. It turned into a game of musical breakfasts, one cub shoved another out of the way and took its breakfast, the displaced cub attacked the next nearest cub and so on. Once the good bits of breakfast (i.e. the horse meat) was gone the cubs dropped their faces into the bowls licking everything else out, occasionally raising their heads for head, meat scented milk dripping off their fur. When breakfast was completely gone the cubs still continued to lick the bowls, a couple of them running along the ground with their heads buried in the metal bowls. We ended up with a breakfast time fight as two cubs jammed their heads into the same bowl and neither would give way. They growled and grumbled and pushed the bowl to and fro but otherwise it was a stalemate.
I didn't have a 9 'o' clock shift so I was looking forward to finally getting some extra time with the cubs. The tourists started to arrive and since its been a long weekend we were expecting to be as busy as the last two days. I stayed in with the cubs and got a few cuddles and was looking forward to spending some time playing before it got too busy when I got the message that if I didn't have a shift I was wanted up by the nursery. I walked up with Iris, Chris and Jen and found Princess (the member of staff, not the hyena) waiting for us with a bashful smile. She gave us a cheery good morning, told us what a wonderful job we are all doing and how we are her favourite volunteers and did we know the zebras had got into the public picnic area last night? Knowing what was about to come and all secretly kicking ourselves for staying in cub world instead of spending our free time back at the tents we grudging set off down to the hovel to retrieve bin liners and pooper-scoopers. We walked to the picnic area beside our campsite and took in the sight before us. The zebras had definitely been in the picnic area. It looked like the zebras had been using it as a toilet for over a week except amazingly the large heaps of poo had all been produced in the last day or so because the public had all been happily picnicing there yesterday.
We each set off for a different pile of poo and set to work. It was quite fun for a while, we were all joking and grumbling at our misfortune of being in the wrong place at the wrong time. The zebra dung was dry and quite easy to pick up and didn't even smell too bad. An hour later we were all pretty fed up. The day was hot, and cleaning up zebra dung is surprisingly strenuous work. I had hefted two bin liners of poo up to the bins and the others had done much the same and yet the area was still covered. We were also discovering that not all the poo was dry and after getting my scoop stuck in a particularly squidy, smelly, fly infested mess I had had enough. I would have complained more had I not been so hot, tired and achingly worn out! We made steady progress though and by the time Kirsty and T-K came to help us we had made the area more presentable. At any rate there were already plenty of picnickers cooking on the braiis around us.
My first shift of the day started at 1pm. I managed to get back to camp, clean myself up and eat a hurried meal before walking up to Elias Gate. My duty there is to greet the public, tear off the game drive section of their ticket and write the number on the tickets so the park can keep track of how many cars go through each day. It was quite hot in the shed. Iris left to get her lunch and I manned the gate for a while. It was easy work but not as relaxing as cub world gate as no sooner did I sit down then another car came past and I had to jump up again. Its been horribly busy today, even more so than the weekend. Most of the visitors were perfectly nice and polite but there were a few interesting characters. I had one man ask me how long it would take him to drive round the camps to which I answered about 40 minutes or so. He then asked me how long it would take if he walked, to which I refrained from answering however long it takes before the lions decide to make a meal of you!
Iris came to join me and we took turns at working and sitting in the shed reading the newspaper and listening to the i-pod that had been left playing. The shed is covered in graffiti on the inside. It looks like every previous volunteer has written their name, country and date of visit on the walls. I'm amazed by how far across the world people have come to the Lion Park! A few artists have even inked pictures of the giraffes and cubs besdie their names. Iris and I added our contribution and soon we were free to leave.
I had an hour before I was due at cub world gate. I wanted to see the cubs but both enclosures were being used for the tourists and there was an endless stream of people moving through the park. I retreated to the relative calm of our campsite and settled down with a book and a cup of tea.
Unfortunately I had to man cub world gate single handedly for two hours! I'm not sure why a second person wasn't put on shift duty with me, but I really wish they had been! The first hour and a half was quite busy and I chatted to the visitors and answered questions about the park. Towards the end of the day however it grew much quieter and I started to find my hard little wooden seat increasinly uncomfortable. It was also frustrating as I saw the other volunteers running past or going in with the cubs while I was stuck in the one place. Finally it was 5pm and I was free to leave.
I walked back to the campsite to find Gambit and Purdy pushing at the entrance gate - those two are determined to break in! I spent a relaxing evening around the campsite. Weve all had an exhausting day and its just been so horribly busy. The animals all seem fed up and the poor cubs have been mauled by endless tourists who can't listen to instructions. The volunteers all sat around having a good moan about the stupid people weve come in contact with today. I had the man who wanted to walk through the game drive and there was also apparently a large Asian family, complete with babes in arms who thought they could stroll through the lions camps and actually argued back when told they had to go and fetch their car. There was a man who tried to put his toddler on one of the cubs backs and then looked surprised when the kid was scratched. The was a woman who demanded to know if lions could smell blood and she was on her period so could we guarentee that the cubs wouldn't attack her if she went in, and she was closely followed by a woman who accused the park of cross-breeding lions with cheetahs becasue some of the lion cubs have spotted marking on their coats!
I think we are all relieved by the prospect of a quiet day tomorrow!


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28th June 2010
Cute baby

love
love tiger baby
28th June 2010

Thanks.... it´s a lion. ;P

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