Friday, May 11, 2012


It has been our theory since we have been living here, that if you are located in a country that has weird animals, you should give them a pat.  Actually, I'm pretty big on giving ANY animal a pat, a habit that I find difficult to keep in check when I'm around service animals.  (and lord help me if I ever saw a service pony, I'd have to be dragged away)  Now before you start thinking I'm loving on every single service animal I meet, please know I have some restraint.  Usually, my brain goes into the mode of "iwannapetthedoggie!", but I'm don't react on that.  Also one time in college there was a girl who had a service animal in class and no lies, that thing growled at me every single time I came into class.  It became a running joke.  The owner would even say, "wow, he doesn't growl at anyone." (Y'know because they are supposed to be super good natured.)  Perhaps it knew I wanted to give it cuddles.   Or maybe it really wanted cuddles but had to show some self-restraint for both of us.  right.

All that aside...

Shawn is never so happy as he is when he's cuddling animals.  It's a fact that I've come to accept in our marriage.  Here's a prime example from our trip to Myrtle Beach:

 And in contrast.....
Eh, she's no Gibbon.
(Actually, to be fair, my smile looks a tad more genuine in the animal picture too....)

Since we first contemplated moving to Australia, it has been my husbands dream to own a wombat.  But upon reading some wombat facts and having nightmares of being trapped in a bathroom while a wombat tears around our apartment at 40km an hour, I thought it was best to just get him a wombat experience instead.

A typical animal experience will usually run you anywhere between $50-$80pp.  And that's usually just for something basic, like a turtle.  They can run well into the hundreds of dollars.  At the zoo I used to docent at, they didn't have things like that.  Which was sad for a variety of reasons:

1) people like that sort of thing
2) it makes a boatload of money (which is helpful for a zoo which needs money.)

Anyhow, zoos down here are kind enough to pretty much let you touch anything you want* for reasonable fees.  Like Shawn and Devon reasonable, which is to say, $10. No, I didn't miss a 0.  It was $10.  I would pat things all day long for $10.  I would pat them twice.  I would pat them oh so nice.  I would pat them on the lam.  I would pat them with green eggs and ham.

So on a rainy Saturday (it's fall here, that what it does now) we headed to the Healesville Sanctuary for wombat snuggles.

Shawn and I don't own a car.  I won't confirm or deny the fact that it's probably not the money, its probably the fact that you often find huntsman spiders dropping down from your visor, (seriously it happens), but this does limit us to either relying on the kindness of clint and kendra to take us places, OR more likely, public transportation.  Lucky for us, Victoria has a really awesome public transportation system and on the weekends it's priced appropriately.  And thankfully, for this trek there wasn't too many transfers, just a two stop train ride and then a 40 minute bus ride.

A few weeks back when I had to be in the city for an interview, I inadvertently sat on the wrong side of the train and for three stops I was going backwards.  It was rush hour, so I had no option of switching sides and I was NOT going to stand up for an hour.  So, I naturally did what anyone would in my position, I got off the train and waited 20 minutes for the next train.  Or maybe that's just what people with motion sickness do.  Irregardless, every time I'm thinking of taking a bus, which is 1,000 times worse than a train, I get the feeling that me taking buses is not a big deal.  Then I get on a bus, and the bus driver is pretending he's in Grand Theft Auto, and I'm dry heaving and trying not to actually vomit all over the seats.  I kept looking at Shawn in desperation the entire time, like could he maybe materialize a diet coke and a plastic bag for me out of his backpack?  (He needs to get one of those Mary Poppins bags for me when I'm feeling like death on public transportation.)

So when we arrived at the sanctuary 40 minutes later, I was feeling a bit like death.  But, we were also getting our memberships this time, so I tried to be pretty excited about that, despite the spinning in my head, and nausea in my stomach.  Unnnnntil I went up to the guest window and the lady inside was all *Scoff* "Memberships?  Don't you mean ADMISSIONS?"  I kindly corrected her.  "No, I meant memberships.  We live here." And trust me, that was not what I wanted to say at all.  But I was at a zoo.  I was going to pat a wombat, and there's no need for (devon's outrageous motion sickness induced) anger in that situation.

We had some time before the pats, so we checked out the rest of the sanctuary.  It only holds Aussie animals, which is sort of neat, probably to anyone who doesn't live in Australia.  I think, if situations were reversed and we went to an all American Zoo, that might be a bit lame.  But then again, Australian animals are cooler than American animals, so maybe Australian citizens even think it's cool.  Who knows.

Moving on....

Here's what we saw:


MMM nectar.

Not eating babies

Adorable Tassie Devil!

Emu Aka Scary, Disemboweling Dino-Bird

Eastern Brown Snake, One of the Top Ten Deadliest Snakes on Earth.  NBD Australia has ALL TEN.
After putsing around the zoo for a few hours (and maybe watching dingoes and devils for most of that time) it was time for our pats.   

We had a family with some small kids with us, which was sort of dicey because you don't really know how small children are going to react to wild animals, like if they're going to do what I used to do to my pepere and memere's dog Brandy and play: HORSE RIDES!  (brandy didn't appreciate that, so I'm sure a baby wombat might not either.)  The kids were pretty good though and more importantly that wombat was darned cute.  She was very solid (think built like a pitt bull) and very cute.  She had scratchy hair, which I really didn't expect.  And now, a wombat montage with cheesy music!

Okay, I do sort of see what Shawn was talking about when he wanted one as a pet.  They are stinkin' cute!  And yeah, maybe now I'm thinking we could go into the bush and rear one as our own and disguise it as a very fat cat for when we head back to the states.  (something I'm SURE Cos and Rem would appreciate....awww, but can you imagine how cute, a kitty in a wombat pouch?? ) Um, anyway, next time when we go back (aka when I feel brave enough to try that bus ride again) I'm going to go pat a dingo.  And since I'm not a baby, I think I should be okay.   

*Fun Fact: Victoria is the only state in Australia that won't let you hold a koala.  Officially.  I mean I guess you could go into the bush and grab one out of a tree and force it  to snuggle you but I don't recommend that because 1) it's illegal and 2) Koalas have claws.  And who wants to be that jerk who's obituary reads "death by koala"?  3) what if drop bears ARE real and you accidentally grab one?   AND THEN IT EATS YOUR FACE OFF?  What then, big shot koala snuggler?

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