Friday, December 28, 2012

Thouroughly Emused! Friday Flashback

Because we think everyone should get to pat some native animals (also eat them, but that’s another post, and I think it’s just me that thinks that), we took Shawn’s parents to the Healsville Sanctuary for a day of animal pats.  Since I have pretty much patted almost every animal there in my quest to complete patting every native animal that is possible while living here*, I decided it was time to brave my fears and attempt the Emu encounter.
A few facts about Emus: (that may or may not have any truth to them)
1)      Emus crave human flesh.  They have been known to rip out a mans’ heart and show it to him before he dies.
2)      They might as well be a velociraptor, due to their scary emu clawed feet.
3)      The Emu is on Australia’s coat of arms along with the kangaroo.  (actual fact)
Anyway, besides facing my fears of emus we did want shawn’s parents to get some time snuggling wildlife, so we booked them a kangaroo feed/pat, and then a dingo encounter for shawn’s dad and a koala encounter for his mom.
When we first arrived, we saw a sign by the door.  This innocent little sign read “DINGO PUPPY PLAYTIME.”  Because Healsville is probably the most excellent place ever, and because they wanted to get their new dingo pups socaliazed, they were offering a whoooole ½ hour of dingo baby puppy cuddles.  To encourage myself to live through my emu encounter, I ALSO booked one of those for myself.  Because c’mon.  Dingo puppies.
Am I right?
First up was the kangaroo encounter.  I think the sponheimers were tempted to take one home.  Or at least shawn’s mom may have been. 
I know what someone's getting for the holidays...
 We then went to the dingo encounter.  Shawn’s dad is a dog person, so we think he liked it.  The dingo may also have licked his face.  They do that. 

After that it was time to head to the dingo encounter.  Naturally, I sort of felt like I was going to vomit.  I gave Shawn a verbal will.  (I’m not kidding about this, I really thought I might be killed.)
Once I got into the enclosure with the keeper (who was AMAZING and my new favorite person by the way), the emus immediately came over.  It may have been they smelled my fear and wanted to take advantage of this by disemboweling me OR, it could be because we had a large bucket of emu feed.  Emu feed, as it turns out, is fruits and veggies and some seeds.  The keeper took me over to the middle of the enclosure and the was like “LET’S DO THIS.” 

You can't run in terror if I'm holding you....
He handed me two bowls at once to feed the two emu boys.  This was terrifying and I was desperately trying not to freak out.  Since I was blessed with height, emus are at my eye level.  So having a scary dino bird pecking away at its’ feed a few inches from your eyeballs is pretty unnerving.  Thankfully, I know if it DID peck out my eye, I would look adorbs in an eye patch.
Cute Pirate Award.
To my utter shock and surprise, the emus turned out to be one of my favorite encounters of native aussie animals.  Despite their ravenous eating habits,  (much like me at dinner) they were pretty chill.

Family Resembalence?

I even got to pat them a bit, and feel their tiny, unusable wing.  I learned that emu society is run by female emus (which naturally makes them the coolest), and when she has the egg, she peaces out and makes him sit on it and raise the chick.  Shawn, this is a glimpse into your future. 
Since the emu enclosure is right at the beginning of the sanctuary, we had drawn quite a crowd.  I imagine I’m prominently featured on China facebook right now.  Anyway, the keeper was talking to the crowd and then he felt bad that he was just ignoring me, and took me away for a quiet moment of question answering and emu patting.  (They are pretty soft, fyi).  Since no one ever does the emu encounter (which is sad now that I’ve done it), he asked why I had decided to.  I told him I was scared of emus and I wanted to face my fears. 
And that ladies and gentlemen is when I got my SECOND “Good on ya!”.  Australian Zoo Keepers are so impressed with me.  So impressed with me that he asked me if he could inform everyone watching that I was scared of emus.  I gave him the go ahead, and he pretty much told an epic tale of how I’m facing my fears and how everyone watching should be impressed with me like he was.  AND Just in case are wondering, you should be impressed with me as well. 
It was pretty excellent.

Next we wandered around the zoo and bumped into some baby wombats.  So we patted them.  NBD.
Sometimes Baby Wombats Gotta Eat A Shoelace
Shawn’s mom then had her koala encounter.  It was sad that in Victoria they don’t really let you touch them, but she did get to get up close and we snapped some cute pictures.  She does love koalas the best.  So it’s nice she got to visit with one up close.

After koala, it was time for dingo puppy playtime.  This is just as awesome as you are thinking.  Dingo puppies are so fluffy.  AND CUTE.  AND RAMBUNCTIOUS.  AND PUPPY-LIKE.  We got to play with two different puppies, an older one and a younger one.   The younger one was just a big poof.  But he was better behaved.  We sat on little tree stumps and the puppies walked up and down the line and we gave them pats. 

Then we got to do a photo op.  Shawn was outside the enclosure snapping faithfully away.

Well, he's a bit cheeky.

It was fun to help train the pups some.

This pretty much ended the Sponheimer adventure in OZ.  The next week we were moving and whatnot, so it was busy packing and getting organized.  BUT!  I hope they had a good time and got to do everything they wanted.

And I hope those of you who are following and plan to visit are taking notes on what animals YOU’D like to pat!

*And don't forget to fill out your "Shawn and Devon Australian Animal Pats Bingo Card", as of 10/3/2012:
Common Wombat – S & D
Emu – D
Dingo – S&D
Dingo Puppy – D
Red Kangaroo – S&D
Hawk Owl – D
Enkidna – D
Frog Mouth Bird – S&D
PS did I mention baby koalas are stupid cute?
STUPID cute.

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