May 27, 2013
We headed into Animal Kingdom, and it was immediately evident what the most abundant species of animal was. This Memorial Day crowd and the crowd at the Magic Kingdom yesterday were amazing - solid masses of people in places - must have been like Hong Kong. It was also amazing that the parks were so well designed and organized that things flowed smoothly nonetheless.
This huge tree was sort of a symbol of Animal Kingdom and a useful landmark.
We decided to take the Wilderness Express, a train ride through a jungle area. Starting at upper left and going clockwise, we walked across the park to the railway station. The big luggage cart on the station platform added to the impression of a frontier station, perhaps in India. The jungle hut was along the way. We made one stop which had some small animals and a bit of educational material. The luggage piled on top of the train reminded me of India, but it is characteristic of many places. The engine of the train is shown bottom left.
We had gotten fastpasses for the safari into the Harambe Reserve, so we headed out into it on safari-type vehicles.
The first animals we saw were these grazing animals with stripes - one with a striped rear end and the others with stripes on their sides. You could see that the side stripes had some camouflage value in the spotted sun of a thin forest, but that striped butt really stands out.
We rode by a water hole and got a good view of these non-native pink pelicans. There were also a half dozen black vultures there, a native species regretted by a lot of animal farmers.
I was surprised to get such a good view of these hippos that were keeping the pelicans company.
In fact, I'm pretty sure this is the closest I've ever been to a hippo.
I saw 7 crocodiles beside the water, and would be definitely worried about the one I didn't see!
There were several species of grazing animals in the distance. I could recognize the wildebeast, but not the one on the left above.
|This baby looks like a cow, but none of our cows ever had horns like that!|
It was great to see the giraffes above, acting like they felt right at home chewing on palm trees. The huge tree in the background was called an upside-down tree because it looks like its roots are growing up in the air.
I haven't identified these long-horned grazers.
Around the next bend was this large elephant.
Even this baby elephant looked pretty large to me.
Just past the elephants we found this pond with beautiful flamingoes. Flamingoes come free in this part of Florida, but they were certainly appreciated as an addition to the beauty of the setting.
Note the big upside-down tree in the photo above.
|This was more than a tourist attraction - it is part of the protection of the rare and endangered white rhinos. There is a baby rhino here, but you can just see his rear end. |
Around another turn we were alerted to the presence of a lion lounging by a tree on a hump above us. Just beyond him by a stream we encountered a spectacular lioness.
This elegant lioness was on the rocks over a stream on the safari route.
I'm sure she would have liked to chase down one of these grazing animals.
We encountered these white grazers with spiral horns just before the exit from the safari. I was amazed at the variety and setting of the wildlife we saw.