I had another fabulous day here in Zimbabwe that was filled with playing with lions. My morning activity was “Introduction to signs and tracks” which was actually incredibly interesting. We learned about bones and skulls of the wildlife found in the bush along with the different prints each animal makes. Did you know that in dog footprints (like hyena), all of the toes are connected while in cat footprints (such as the lion), the toes are separated… pretty cool. We also learned a lot about the circle of life firsthand as well. For instance, elephants and other such animals are attracted to pits of mud of which they eat and bath in. They have a natural instinct to eat the mud as it is filled with salt and other nutrients that are essential to their well-being. They bathe in the mud which coats their body then dries. Once dried, the elephants rub their thick skin onto trees to remove parasites that have attached to their skin. Birds are attracted to trees that lack bark (from the elephants rubbing on them) to eat the parasites that have fallen off of the elephants. All of these are natural instincts but fascinating to see how they all work together… kinda cool to learn about!
My midmorning activity was “learning and enrichment” for the cubs… essentially a bunch of the volunteers made toys for the cubs and were able to interact and play with them for a few hours… such fun! We made toys out of leaves, twigs, long branches, kidney beans, etc. and basically played with the cubs like you would with a domestic cat but just on a bit larger scale. They really seemed to enjoy the activities as they were very active, jumping to try to catch the toys, and chasing the toys all around… so fun to watch! After lunch I stayed at Mesuwe (the lodge where the cubs are kept) and got to do a “cub sit”… basically a one-on-one for about three hours with the cubs. So I went with two of the guides and basically got to do whatever so we took the lions down to the river along with a few of the homemade toys that we had made earlier in the day and played with them a bit longer. They were splashing in the water, playing with one another, getting to know some of the guides even better and overall just a solid afternoon that was filled with a lot of time with the lions… couldn’t have asked for much more! After was a client walk before heading back to the rest camp for the night.
A few of the volunteers headed out for some waffles and ice cream… definitely a new favorite… and as we were walking back the eclipse began. So we sat outside and talked for awhile as we watched and enjoyed a perfect night weather-wise. It was really neat to see! All-in-all it was a fabulous day filled with lots of lion-time… and I still am in one piece 🙂 No lion attacks even if they are completely capable!!