Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined.

Henry David Thoreau

The Rest of the Animal Story

Wednesday December 6, 2017                                                                Most Recent Posts:
Fort Wilderness Campground                                       Lions and Tigers, Dragons, Bats and Pheasants. . . Oh My!
Walt Disney World                                                                                  Holiday Magic Already
Orlando, Florida


This post is the second part of my visit to Animal Kingdom in Disney World.  It was such a great day, it couldn’t be done in one post.  The first part can be read from the link in blue above.  Those of you who enjoyed the bats, might like this 1 minute video of the play going on between two of them of which  I could not get any still pictures that weren’t just a tangle of black.    I forgot to put this in yesterday’s post but  You’ll find it here.



Gibbon Ruins


I was on my way to meet David when I stopped by the Anandapur Temple ruins that are home to the Gibbon family.  They are just so much fun to watch that I stayed for a very long time.  What better place to hang out while you wait for someone to call you.





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These are the white cheeked Gibbons who are currently found in small populations in the tropics of China, Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, Bangladesh, northeast India, Myanmar, Malaysia, and Indonesia..  The males are black and the females golden.  They have a life span of about 25 years.  They are members of the ape family, not the monkey family.  Apes include gorillas, orangutans, chimpanzees, and bonobos.   This group has longer arms and no tails and scientists tell us is most closely related to humans.  


Gibbons are classified as lesser apes. They are relatively smaller, slender, and more agile than other apes. They exhibit many characteristics of primates, including flat faces, enlarged brain sizes, grasping hands and feet, arms longer than legs, no tails, and broad chests. Male gibbons are just under 3 ft in height and weigh about 15 lb. 

Gibbons are famous for their agility in the forest tree-tops and are excellent arm-swingers. They are considered to be among the world's best acrobats! Gibbons have the longest arms (relative to body size) of all species of primates, enabling them to move hand over hand through the branches of the trees propelled only by their forelimbs. They have the ability to swing from tree to tree, distances of 50 ft, at speeds of up to 35 mph, while in trees over 200 ft above ground.   A major reason they are so much fun to watch.  Clearly they were Tarzan’s inspiration.

Today they are swinging all over.  This looks like so much fun.  Sure wish I could do it.


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I only saw one female and assume she must be the matriarch.







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The pictures really don’t do justice to their acrobatics.  If you’d like to see them playing around, here is a two minute video.  Watch as much or as little as you like at this link.


Walking on through Asia, I come to Mount Everest.  Here at Animal Kingdom it is the home of the the roller coaster Expedition Everest which is themed around the Yeti protecting the Forbidden Mountain next to Everest.   My stomach doesn’t approve of roller coasters so there are only outside photos without the sounds of all the screaming.


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Where there is UP of course there must also be down.  


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This is where the screaming happens.


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Attention to detail is everywhere you look in every spot in all of Disney World.

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This may be the greatest food truck I’ve ever seen and I don’t have any idea what they were serving.

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The locals seems to have made themselves at home here as well.  A great egret perches on a pilar.

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A tri-colored heron walks around the same area.


There was one thing I saw while here that made me sad.  Such young children with their faces glued to screens.   Is this the new passifier?  The first little guy has them both.  Sadly I could have taken many many more photographs just like these.

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When David arrived the skies had turned a beautiful blue and the Tree of Life, which is magnificent, looked lovely in the background.  I’ve done previous posts with many details on the amazing wildlife on the trunk and roots of this tree at the center of Animal Kingdom.  This year we did not walk all around it but if you would like to see those previous details pictures just use the search box in the upper left of this post and put in Tree of Life.


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For the afternoon, we did what David chose.  Thus I got to redo some things I’d done in the morning.  Of course one of those was visit the male tiger who this time was napping with his back to us.  But one of the keepers did have a tablet with a video of the cubs.  That was fun to watch.   On the way out of Asia, David stops at a water fountain to refill his water bottle.  He is very consciencious about how much water he drinks, very important for everyone but especially for those with heart conditions.


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On our way out of Asia, we walked through the bird house again and saw some birds I’d missed this morning including this Fairy Bluebird. He sure doesn’t look like any of our little North American Bluebirds.   

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Not sure I’ve ever seen a photographer with a tail but she sure was cute.



The Crested Wood Partridge looked pretty surprised when I first caught sight of him.


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But apparently his eyes are always that big.   Nice hat!




My favorite of the afternoon was this pair of Victoria Crowned Pigeons.  They certainly do look regal.  They don’t keep those heads still long enough to get the both of them without any blur.


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From there David wants to do the safari where we see the hippopotamus out of the water this time and napping.

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We see giraffes several times on our trip. Never too many giraffes in my opinion.

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Watusi cattle among the trees.

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Think about how heavy those horns would be if they weren’t hollow.

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Yellowstone is famous for its buffalo jams but here we have a wildebeast jam while we wait for them to cross the road.

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Then we are part of a girraficjam.  Apparently this is quite common in the Harambe Wildlife Preserve.  Thus they have devised this special term for it.

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If they approach the road, drivers stop.

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But sometimes they don’t cross to the other side.

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They just walk on down the road.

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Sometimes right down the middle of the road.  Hey, it’s their place and we move along slowly behind them at a non harrasing distance.    OK by me.  I’ve never been in a Giraffe parade before.



The baby elephant is out this afternoon.  Great to see him.

 

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Those trunks are sure handy for lots of things.

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The king is still in charge.

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It’s late afternoon when we leave the safari.  We stop in the center of Harambe at Mombasa Marketplace to watch Burudika a group of drummers, dancers and acrobats.  They put on quite a show.


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Time to get on our way.  We have two monorails and a ferry to ride before we arrive home for dinner.

On our way back through the campground there are more over doer decorators.


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Although the noise of being so close to the ferry dock is problematic for me, one advantage to being in loops so close to that area is that the horse drawn carriages and sleighs (yes sleighs with no snow), start from there and come along the campground loops.  This time of year we can hear their “sleigh bells” and tonight they are right behind us as we are walking home.   If you want to hear them too, here is a 5 second video – look quickly.


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Lions and Tigers, Dragons, Bats and Pheasants…Oh My!

Wednesday December 6, 2017                                                                           Most Recent Posts:
Fort Wilderness Campground                                                                             Holiday Magic Already
Disney World                                                                                                     Easy Pace at Gamble Rogers
Orlando,  Florida




David has to go into Orlando today for a visit to the clinic.  I’m off to Animal Kingdom where he’ll meet me  later.  In order to get to Animal Kingdom, I have to take a bus up to the entrance to Fort Wilderness to the Outpost where buses to all the resorts except Magic Kingdom arrive and depart.  Animal Kingdom is a 15 minute bus ride away.  It’s amazing how large the Disney World complex is, 28000 acres.

First thing at Animal Kingdom of course is the tree.  The sky is so bright in every direction that my camera darkens the tree and it just isn’t a true picture of what I saw.   Wish I knew how to compensate for lighting problems.





As on the other trees that are this giant size, the ornaments are giant as well.  Eyore looks a bit concerned there under the tree.
















As on previous days, I’m on the first bus at the campground and the first bus to Animal Kingdom.  Arriving early means many of the streets are nearly empty when I come on them.  I sure never expected to see this sight on the bridge into Africa.  I guess someone is renting Animal Kingdom for their wedding?  Really?

The reason I think this is that I see signs around later in the day that say Animal Kingdom will close at 6pm tonight for a “private event”.  I’m actually shocked that it is for sale.

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Thank goodness they speak English here as well as Swahili.


I wonder if this is where the wedding party will be staying?

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Just outside the Safari booking office I find a group of  African Cranes

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I have a fast pass later in the day for doing the safari when David can join me but since it’s early and there is no wait, I decide why not see how different what I see is in the morning compared with later in the day.

Angie is the driver of our safari buggy and she does a great job of navigating the rough roads and pointing out the wildlife.  And most important of all, she didn’t talk so fast we couldn’t understand her which has been my experience on many of these tours.


I suspect you’ll recognize all of these African animals but in case you don’t, the first one we see is a hippopotamus.  They love water and spend up to 16 hours a day in it.  They sure don’t look big submerged but they can weigh 3.5 tons.  That’s BIG!


Wild Dogs


Ankole-Watusi cattle


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One of my favorites, the giraffe.

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My African Parks specialist Gaelyn tells me these are Springbok Antelope.  They were running like streaks chasing each other.  It was almost impossible to follow them and totally impossible to photograph them.  I settled for a picture of the part of the group that was standing still watching the chasing going on.



Vying for top honors as my favorites along with giraffes are elephants.

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The wind almost took this woman’s hat off as we went by this flock of  Greater Flamingos.  These are not the same species as those in Central and South America who used to live in the southern Everglades of Florida.

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All Flamingos depend on a diet of shrimp for their pink color.  The more the shrimp, the more the pink.

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Later in the day when asked what animal he most wanted to see, David said, the lion.  I was lucky enough to get to see both the male and a female this morning.


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Animal Kingdom is 500 acres in size.  That’s 5 times the size of the Magic Kingdom and more than twice the size of Epcot.  And no wonder given the size area many animals need.  The Safari ride area is divided into three sections, an African Forest and a Savannah East and Savannah West.  I assume this is to keep the preditors and prey separate.


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A second female was keeping a look out on the highest rock.

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When your safari is over, you’ll exit right here at the sign for the Gorilla Falls Exploration Trail.
It too is a fairly large area home to a group of bachelors and a family grouping.  This morning I stopped by to check out the bachelors.


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There were two guys in view on one side of the bridge.   The first seemed to have a hankering for what looked like bamboo.  Perhaps it wasn’t since I thought that was the Panda’s preference.

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But after picking through the stalks, he spent his time happily leaning against a tree with his back to us.

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A second gorilla comes in from the right and goes down into a moat like area for a bit.

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When he decides to climb back up and head over to the other side I wonder whether they will encounter each other.


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The second gorilla climbs up and walks over to the bamboo looking stuff.   He shows no interest, goes on up and walks right by the first gorilla without even giving him a look and walks off behind the rock to an area of their land not visible to us.   No drama.


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By now it’s only 10:00 so I wander on over into Asia.


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I’ve done  a safari in Africa, time to do a Trek in Asia.  First thing on the Maharajah Jungle Trek is the Komodo Dragon..  Not sure why she’s called a “dragon” except that dragons are revered creatures in some Asian Cultures.  She’s actually a very large and very dangerous lizard.


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This is a seriously relaxed picture.  Doesn’t she look like she’s melting into this rock?  The reason is that being from Indonesia, she likes it warm hot.  It is hot in Orlando in the summer time but not today.  Plus there is no sun out to warm up the rock for her.  Thus, for our viewing pleasure and her comfort, the rock is heated.  HA!


It’s the almost asleep look.

They have been the dominant species on Indonisia’s Lesser Sundra Islands for millions of years.  They can reach 10 feet in length, weigh 300 pounds and eat pretty much anything including deer, pigs, water buffalo and humans.

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I’m checking out her claws and thinking, how do they eat something many times their size.  I ask the information person how they use the claws and she tells me they don’t climb, they patiently wait using their camouflage coloring until unsuspecting prey come by and they spring using powerful legs, sharp claws and serrated shark like teeth to eviscerate their victim.  Oh my!!

If the victim can escape, that only works for a short time since the dragon’s saliva contains over 50 species of bacteria and within 24 hours, the victim dies of  blood poisoning.  The dragon just patiently follows its prey with its keen sense of smell and waits for the corpse.  They then use the claws for ripping and can eat up to 80% of their own weight in a single feeding.

Oh, and they can run up to 11 mph in short bursts.   I sure wouldn’t want to be her keeper.


Next up it’s feeding time at the fruit bat house.  These are the Malayan Flying Fox Fruit Bats.
They are pretty scary looking too but they are no threat at all to humans.   I’m lucky to have happened by when the keepers are hanging these sugar liquid, fruit and salad breakfasts out for the bats who are not nocturnal but like many of us will nap after a big meal.

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There are a pair of bats playing or fighting we’re not sure which.  I try to get some pictures of them but they just turn out to be a big black blurr.  The keepers put food out to  lure them apart.


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Reach those long “arms” out to grab that food.  It seems very cool to me to have arms with hands on the ends that are actually wings you can spread to fly.  I think I’d like that a lot as long as I didn’t have to hang upside down all the time.


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Check out those  little hands.

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The red hair is too much.


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There are at least a half dozen or more bats here and they have different ways of approaching their food.


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I know, enough bats.  But they really are fabulous and I’ve never seen them being fed before.


IMG_7614However, my main reason for taking the Trek is in hopes of being able to see my favorite Asian Animal the Sumatran Tiger.  They are the smallest surviving tiger subspecies.  There are only an estimated 500-600 left in the wild.  They have decreased by over 50% in less than 20 years largely due to poaching and deforestation for palm plantations for palm oil on the Island of Sumatra.

Animal kingdom has two Sumatran Tigers, a male and a female.  They have successfully bred and two cubs were born in August.  Very exciting for keeping the species alive but very sad that their status in the wild is so endangered.  Words just can’t describe what a regal cat he is.  What a face!!


The female was in the tiger house with the cubs who will finally be coming out into the open areas within the next week or ten days.  But, sadly for me, I’ll be gone by then.   But lucky for me, the male was out lounging today and I was able to see him.  But heads up Nancy and Bill, they should be out when you and Julie are here so send pictures!!    And for those who can’t wait until then, here’s picture of them from the Disney website. Their names are Jeda and Anala, a male and a female.


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The buildings and walk ways along the Trek seem very authentic looking.

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I finish up my Trek in the bird house where there are some seriously amazing looking birds.




Looks way more handsome than our doves but I didn’t get his name.

  Wonderful looking feeders.


Wish we could trade some of our obnoxious starlings for some of these but then “our” starlings don’t belong over here in the first place.


But the bird of the day was this enormous Great Argus Pheasant.  He’s can be 63 to 79 inches tall which is taller than I am.  That’s one single tail feather.   When in the bird area, it is wise to look up as well as around.  Just imagine my shock when I looked up and saw this in a tree above my head.



Not such a beautiful face but look at those exquisite feathers both outside and inside.



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By now it’s time to head back to the entrance to meet David.  On my way I stop off at the island ruins which is home to the fascinating Gibbons family.  They are such an entertainment, you could spend hours here just watching them.  But this post is way long enough so the Gibbons will have to wait until next time.

Apparently I can’t do the wonders at Animal Kingdom on just one day in a single post.