The Wilds

Saturday, May 2, 2015

So last week, my family and I had the great opportunity to embark on a free field trip to the Wilds courtesy of my school, ECOT, the Electronic Classrrom of Tomorrow. North America's largest conservation park. We rose early in the day, with yawns coming out of our mouths and sleep glitter still in our eyes. Soon after we were all packed up and ready to go. The ride was long. Nearly 1 hour and 30 minutes of ruthless Ohio hills and all things country spread all around us...
but I had the proper things to keep me comfortable. Book+phone+hidden snacks in my bag=life. 
When we arrived we were immediately greeted with kind ECOT and Wilds employees, who ushered us to the main building where we were treated with lunch. We barely got a bite of anything, before ECOT teachers started announcing that tour buses would be leaving soon. So we quickly stuffed our faces with sandwiches, cookies, brownies, chips, juice, and soda, before setting off. (Within the haste, I've forgotten to take pics of both the buildings and our tour buses. My newbie bones are showing.)
Anyway, we were off.
The first few minutes of being on the tour bus were spent weeding through more curves and hills. I guess the Wilds is very careful about keeping their wild animals away from civilization. On our way, we saw beautiful green plains and beautiful clouds. Which, if you haven't guessed already, are my favorite.
The first animals that we cam across were these Persian Onagers'.
They are sub-species of wild donkey and the used to be very common in Central Asia and the Middle East, but unfortunately now there are few.
Next we came across the Sichuan Takin. These beauties inhabit Central China and they are known neighbors of the great panda. They still do roam there, but as you can see, conservation is taking place because their population is a bit scarce. Here you can see my shot of one eating. They have to kneel down to even get close to their meals, which I think is a bit cute and quirky if you ask me. 
We were fortunate enough to get a close up with these Sable Antelope next. As we drove on from the Takin, we saw a whole bunch of them sprinkled through the hills, but they were so far away we barely got to see them. Gratefully, these three decided to grace us with their presence.
Moving on we saw these in the distance.
Indochina Sika Deer.
Formally known to India and China, these sub-species of Sika Deer are now extinct in the world and are only found in conservation parks like this. Hunting, water pollution, and lost habitat to farming are said to be the culprits. 

We stayed by the lake for a while listening to the tour guide talk about their story, but eventually we had to move on. After driving a bit, we came across the camels! They were my favorite part of the whole tour.

 The camel to the right, the small one, was a new arrival! He was a spring baby with wobbly legs and he was absolutely adorable. Just look at him stealing the show.

The dark fella with two humps(pictured below), known as a Bactrian camel, was slobbering like crazy. I not sure if he was related to the baby, but the little one seemed joined to his hip so I'm assuming just that.
I happened to catch one more shot before our bus drove away.

For a long while, we saw nothing. It was a chilly day, so we assumed that the animals were somewhere saving themselves. Then out of nowhere a herd of American Bison trampled their way through.

The scene was breath taking and I honestly don't think the pictures did any justice to it. Like all of the other animals within this park, these animals are endangered. Near the 1900s, they were almost extinct! 

These animals would roam the land of America, but with hunting and loss of habitat that isn't really true anymore.

With parks like this, they've got the opportunity to thrive in the land that's originally their home. 

The bison also had a new baby in their family and seeing him trot was so cute! Now looking at my pictures, I can't see her! Let me know if you do.
The clouds started to get darker, which left the air even more chilled, but that didn't stop us.
We were making our way towards the medium-sized carnivores when we happened to glimpse these grazers.
They are Bactrian Deer and they have seemed to make themselves right at home.
In the carnivore area, we were met by several African Painted Dogs.
Named after their origins and their unique fur pattern, these pups were hyped at our arrival. 
They chased each other around and their playfulness...

 ... almost made you forget that they'd eat you alive if they had the chance.
 We moved on and spotted three cheetahs lying lazily upon a hill.
 On the flip side, a Dhole sat at the bottom of one to keep away from the wind.
 Right above the Dhole, yet another Cheetah sat regally upon a hill. Many of the kids were trying to get her attention, but she payed them no ming.
 When we came full circle, it seemed that the African Painted Dogs had lost their friendliness. Some sat lazily in the grass, while others paced the fence.
 I photographed this one eyeing a toddler (who is not shown), which crept me the heck out. I think he was looking for a snack. (He legit followed the toddler along the fence and continued to stare as we went back to our tour buses. 😯)

 Anyway, after visiting our meat eaters we were finally heading back. On our way we caught site of Zebras. Grevy's Zebras to be exact. According to the Wilds website, there are less than 3000 of these type of Zebra in the wild. Our tour guide explained that, their hide has very fine stripes. That's a rarity among Zebras, so their being poached for their unique patterns, which I think is sad.
 Further down, we caught sight of this beautiful Southern White Rhino. When we passed him, everyone on the bus jumped up and started snapping their cameras. He was a hit and definitely the star of the show.
With our heads still filled with thoughts of the rhino, we all happily chattered our way back down various hills and toward toward the main building where we went gift shopping. There was candy, shirts, stuffed animals, and just about everything else you'd find in a souvenir shop, but I got this because I'm simple and basic.
After gift shopping, I snapped this view. It was a very serene moment, seeing the clouds cast shadows upon the land; thinking about all of the animals out their living on it daily. That moment soon passed and we headed to our cars.
On our way home, while we were right outside the Wilds, my sister and I spotted this purple tree. We asked our mom to stop so that we could take a picture of it. (I know. We are weird, but our favorite color is purple and the spring tree looked so vibrant against the brown, green and blue. The picture doesn't do it justice, trust.) Huffing, mom obliged.
It was then when we saw little specks forming along the tree line and, for a second, I was a bit scared because I didn't know what they were. I quickly realized that they were the bison!
Thinking about it and I realize that the same direction the bison were heading was the same direction we were driving in towards home. So in our time that it took to finish the rest of the trip and get to our cars, the bison had run from one side of the Wilds to the other.
I wanted to stay and see if we could see all of the herd, but mom was getting antsy so I snapped my final pictures...
and we headed home.
All in all, I would say that the Wilds is a wonderful thin to experience and I would definitely recommend it to anyone visiting or living in Ohio. This was my second time going and it was still a wonder. One thing I will say though is that, if you do plan on going, pick a warm or hot day! Of course I didn't get a say in the day our field trip happened and if it's the same condition you are in then that's totally fine because it doesn't take away from the experience, but just know that you'll be spending a lot of time outside and so will the animals, if you want to see them. We didn't even get a glimpse of the Ostriches, Giraffes, or Onyx, because it was two cold for them to be out. Also, as you could see from the pictures, even though they could withstand the weather, some animals just weren't feeling it. From the Rhino to the Cheetah many were just lying low, when on other days you could get a more close up experience with them. Either way, I do plan on going back and if you're ever in Ohio, I hope you plan on giving them a visit too. x

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