Safari at the Zoo PDF Print E-mail
Family Travels


 For Josiah’s birthday last year, we had a Safari Party at the zoo, and then spent several weeks thereafter studying Africa. Africa is a fascinating continent because it is home to so many of God’s magnificent creatures. The following is a list of Josiah’s birthday gifts and all the fun activities we enjoyed. Consider surprising your children with a safari this summer and enjoy how much fun you give them.
 For Josiah’s birthday breakfast, I used tulle from a garden party that I had given the previous night (see how to hang in this issue under “Signature Touches” on page **), untied the ribbons at each end of the table’s corners and pulled the tulle completely around our dining room table so that it would look like mosquito netting. On the table I placed a silk orchid, a huge leaf platter, a map of Africa, and all of the following gifts:
? A Magnetic African Adventure play set consisting of an African savanna with water hole and 23 magnetic animal pieces—giraffe, elephant, hippopotamus, alligator, lion, rhinoceros, monkey, baboon, warthog, cheetah, zebra, hyena, impala, ostrich, wildebeest….
? A Safari Wild Beasts Toob and a Safari Big Cats Toob, each containing beautiful plastic animals. The Big Cats Toob, of course, contains wild cats, while the Wild Beasts Toob contains elephants, giraffes, lions, rhinoceroses, tigers, gorillas, jaguars, zebras, hippopotamuses, and a camel. These are great little authentic replicas, which Josiah loves.
? Grasslands and Deserts by Harper Festival is a cute pop-up book, which covers the cheetah, oryx, rhinoceros….
? 10 Days in Africa by Out of the Box Games is a geography game where each player, using country and transportation cards, tries to be the first player to chart his ten-day journey across Africa.
? Special Wonders of the Wild Kingdom by Buddy and Kay Davis is written by creationists who give God the glory and cover the camel, rhinoceros, cheetah, elephant, anteater, giraffe, gorilla, hippopotamus, leopard, lion, antelope, sloth, tiger, and zebra.
? (The following was given to him by one of his friends, so I did not have this to place on the table but would have if we had given it to him. It is certainly a great book.) The African Plains Dover Coloring Book provides forty-one beautifully detailed pages to color of the flora, fauna, and wildlife of the African plains. Within its pages children will see cheetahs, zebras, termite mounds, acacia trees, African hunting dogs chasing a wildebeest, Egyptian plovers….

Safari Activities

 We created a savanna on a piece of plywood by painting it a buff color mixed with sand. We used moss for shrubs and made acacia trees with branches, thorns, and little green leaves. To one side we painted a watering hole and even made termite mounds out of clay mixed with sand. This was all so that Josiah could play with his African plastic animals in an authentic habitat.
 Using a shoebox, paints, and clay, we made a jungle panorama for the plastic animals, and Josiah made a few animals out of clay.
 We made animal masks out of paper bags.
 We watched Born Free and Walt Disney’s True-Life Adventure of the Jungle Cat.
 We read Usborne’s Jungle Book.
 The following is not an activity that we have done yet, but it would be a great addition to this party. Make a felt lion hand puppet. Using light brown felt, have your child place his hand on the felt, holding thumb and pinky to each side with the other fingers together. Trace around the hand on the felt. Cut out two pieces of handprint. Sew sides and top together, leaving opening at bottom for hand to fit through. Sew on buttons for eyes, brown yarn for mane, a button for nose, and yarn for mouth.

The Safari

 For the Safari luncheon, we had trail mix, zebra steaks (which was just a beef roast, but the kids loved cutting hunks off with a long knife), mangoes, bananas, alligator meat (gummy alligators), dates, river water (bottled water), and a sheet cake covered with plastic African animals. We enjoyed this at a beautiful pavilion that had two fireplaces and lovely rock work. It faced Hwy. 40 and was the second pavilion west of the Zoo’s entrance.
 After lunch, I divided up the children into two teams and gave them each a packet that contained pages of facts about the African animals they were to hunt. I also gave each team a disposable camera for shooting a picture of themselves in front of each animal they found and a walkie-talkie so that each group could contact one another. Then on my signal, each group started the race to see which team could finish the safari first. To make it fair to each group, I had them find the same animals, but ordered their list of animal facts opposite of each other, so that each team started at different ends of the zoo. The following list of facts was given to each group, which their leader had to read. Then the group had to identify the animal, run to locate it, stand before it, shoot it with the camera I gave them, and then proceed to the next animal.
 It was truly a blast, but beware, I literally thought I might die gasping, as the younger children ran at a fevered pitch, which meant that I as their chaperone had to keep up with them. Several times, through gasping breaths, I had to slow them down just so I could catch my breath. So get in shape before you go so that you can keep up. But go, by all means, because you will enjoy it so much!
 [The second set of clues were made up for the older children who attended a Safari field trip. Because the older group read their own questions, I had the answers separate so they could not see them.]

1. I may live as long as 70 years. I am very intelligent and very social. I eat bark, leaves, bamboo, twigs, fruit, seeds, flowers, and grass. When full grown I need to eat 300 pounds of these foods daily. This requires me to spend 16 hours a day eating. I am the largest land animal standing 12-13 feet high and weighing 5-6 tons. Even my baby weighs around 300 pounds at birth. If I die while my baby is still young, I need not worry, for another mother will adopt it. My trunk has over 40,000 to 100,000 muscles and is sensitive enough to pick up a single blade of grass. With this trunk I can suck up 15 quarts of water at a time. I also use my trunk to spray water on my body for bathing. I then spray dirt and mud on for my sunscreen. By raising my trunk up in the air and swiveling it from side to side, I can determine the location of friends, enemies, and food sources. My second upper incisors are called tusks, which I use to dig for water, salt, and roots; to debark trees, to eat the bark; to dig into trees for pulp; and to move trees when clearing a path. We are among the world’s most potentially dangerous animals, capable of crushing and killing any other land animal, from lions to rhinoceros. (Elephant-The River’s Edge)

2. I live in caves and holes in Africa and southern Asia. I am the size of a large dog with a large head. My forelegs are longer than my hind legs, which make me walk with an awkward gait. I am a nocturnal, carnivorous scavenger with jaws and teeth powerful enough to crush the hardest bones. I am especially known for my haunting laugh. (Hyena-The River’s Edge)

3. I measure 6 feet long and weigh 90-140 pounds. I live in Africa, Arabia, India, and the Middle East. On the African plains called savannas, I hunt gazelles and impalas, alone or sometimes in pairs. My spotted coat provides the perfect camouflage for sneaking up on unsuspecting victims. I usually only eat every two to five days, but I must eat my prey very quickly because my food is often stolen by larger, more powerful animals like lions, leopards, and hyenas. I cannot climb trees because my legs are straight, and I am the only cat that cannot fully retract its claws. I am the fastest land animal, running 50-70 miles an hour. (Cheetah-The River’s Edge)

4. I live in the dense forests of Africa and feed on bamboo shoots, wild celery, tender plants, tree bark, and fruit. During the day in early afternoon, I rest while the younger ones play. Every night I make my bed on the ground with leaves and branches along with the other members of our small group. When I was born, I was tinier than a human baby and stayed with my mother for several years while she taught me to eat and to socialize. I now stand 5½ feet tall and weigh 440 pounds. I have short legs and long arms, broad shoulders, deep set eyes, bushy eyebrows, a flat nose, and long dark hair that will turn gray when I am old. I walk and run on my knuckles, and when I am excited, I beat my chest with both fists while I roar wildly. I hope to live to be 50 years old. (Gorilla-Fragile Forest or Jungle of the Apes)

5. I am beautiful! When full grown I stand between 5 to 6½ feet tall with slender long legs and a slender neck that is as limber as a snake. I live in tropical and subtropical countries and can occasionally be found in the marshes of Florida and Louisiana. I feed on water plants and on shellfish, which give me my brilliant color. During nesting season, we gather by the thousands to build mounds of mud that resemble miniature volcanoes. In each crater a single egg is laid. While in flight we have been described as a gigantic brilliantly rosy scarf that waves to and fro in mighty folds as we fly. (Flamingos-The Lake in The Wild)

6. I am intelligent, good-natured, and gentle, but I have been known to kill lions with my head used as a sledgehammer in defense of my young. I am rather peculiar. I am totally silent, even when captured. I sometimes sleep leaning against a tree. Although my body is smaller than an average horse, I stand 16-20 feet tall. My front legs alone are 8-10 feet long, and then my stiff neck is 6 feet longer. My chest is much wider than my rump. I have a short soft mane and can run as fast as a horse—up to 35 miles per hour. My knees are covered with calluses. My upper lip is long, and this, along with my 1½-foot long tongue, helps me to grasp my favorite food, which happens to be leaves; mimosa trees are my favorite. Since leaves provide a lot of moisture, I do not need to drink very often; sometimes I go without water for many weeks, even months at a time. I chew my cud. I live in a small herd in Africa. (Giraffe-Antelope Yard)

7. I am a queer looking animal of the African and Arabian deserts. I am eight feet tall and weigh 300 pounds. My long, strong, thick legs carry me across the desert faster than the swiftest Arabian horse. I can even cover 25 feet in a single stride. I have a long neck, small head, a humped back, two padded toes on each foot, and an ungainly walk. I eat coarse desert plants and add stones and other hard objects to my diet to help grind up my food. I will lay my eggs in a single communal nest, which may contain as many as 60 eggs weighing more than 3 pounds each. If cornered or harmed, I will fight viciously, kicking sideways and forwards. One blow from me can kill a man or animal. I am the largest living bird but cannot fly. However, I can reach a speed of up to 45 miles per hour. I travel with grazing animals. Hopefully, I will live to be 70 years old. (Ostrich-Antelope Yard)

8. I am a very useful domestic animal. People eat my flesh, drink my milk, weave my hair into cloth for clothing and tents, use me to carry their burdens, and ride me. However, I do have a reputation for having a bad temper and for my unwillingness to work. As a matter of fact, I seldom work without protest, moaning and groaning when loads are placed on my back, and I do nip, bite, and kick. But I can carry 500-600 pounds 25 miles a day. Without a load I can carry a person up to 75 miles a day. I live in Arabia, Syria, Africa, and Asia. Before railroad transportation, 600 of us could be seen transporting goods between Cairo and Suez each day. I am large and shaggy. My long lashes protect my large brown eyes from the sun, and my nostrils can be closed during sandstorms. I have long jaws that swing from side to side as I chew my cud. My knobby knees have pads of calluses to cushion my knees as I kneel for my master to load his burden upon my back. My feet split, spreading wide to help prevent me from sinking into the sand. My hump is made of fat and muscle and is helpful when food is scarce because I draw upon its stored energy. I eat twigs, thistles, and thorny shrubs, and my master also feeds me dried dates and hard beans. I eat relatively anything and consider an old mat or basket a delicacy. I can go a week without water, storing it in little cells in my stomach. I am called the “ship of the desert” because when I walk, I lift both feet on one side at the same time, making one sway like a ship at sea. At one time Job had 6,000 creatures just like me. (Camel-Antelope Yard)

9. Although I am a member of the horse family, I have never been truly domesticated. Natives eat me and use my hide for leather. I am 4 feet high at the shoulder, have a mane, and stripes. (Zebra-Antelope Yard)

10. I once inhabited all of Africa, southern Asia, and southeastern Europe. I can cover 30 feet in one bound, and only an antelope can outrun me. I eat deer, antelope, zebras, buffalo, camels, and sometimes even man. I can get as large as 9-10 feet in length and up to 500 pounds. In a single blow, I can crush the skull of an ox or break the back of a horse. I am truly King of the Jungle. (Lion-Big Cat Country)

11. I belong to a large family numbering over 2,300 species. My ancestors were worshipped as gods, for pagans considered us symbols of wealth and knowledge. The Greeks even dedicated us to the god of medicine. However, the One True Living God cursed my species for the part we played in tempting Eve in the Garden of Eden. Our teeth are curved backwards. Our meals consist of insects, fish, frogs, lizards, birds, mice, rabbits, gophers, and other small mammals. I personally live in dry bushy regions, am 12 feet long, am able to swallow whole animals the size of a dog, and crush my prey with my powerful coils. (Boa Constrictor-Herpetarium; There are several different types of boas; any will be fine, but the Brazilian Rainbow Boa is an impressive specimen.)

12. We are mammals that live in the ocean off the coast of California. We spend much of our time in the ocean in search of herring, mackerel, and squid, but we can fully rotate our hind flippers, allowing us to walk on land, as well. We have one pup annually, which is covered with thick, soft, nearly white fur. Some of our elders weigh as much as 800 pounds. We are very social and playful. We are hunted for our skin, flesh, and blubber. Our chief enemy is the killer whale. (Seals-Seal Lion Basin)

Clues for Older Children

1. Although I am capable of reaching one ton or more in weight, I am quite agile and can quickly turn in small spaces. I have a large head, broad chest, thick legs, and a fondness for rolling in the mud. My hearing and sense of smell are acute; however, my eyesight is poor. Formed from layers of collagen positioned in a lattice structure, my skin is thick and has many folds but is hairless. I am an odd-toed ungulate, which means that I have three toes on each foot. I am prized for my horn or horns, depending on my species, which is made of keratin, the same type of protein that makes up hair. A group of us is called a crash, probably because we charge when startled. We can also become rather ill tempered, especially when we are constantly disturbed. We growl, grunt, squeak, snort and bellow. When attacking, we lower our head, snort, break into a gallop reaching speeds of 30 miles an hour, and gore or strike powerful blows with our horns. Feeding grounds, water holes, and wallows may be shared. I live in dense, woody vegetation and eat leaves, buds, shoots of plants, bushes and trees. The Swahili tick bird is my friend because he eats the ticks off my back and warns me of danger. I hope to live to be 50 years or more.

2. I spend most of my days in or near the water in groups called pods. My eyes sit on top of my head so I can get most of my body underwater and still see what’s going on above water. My nostrils are also located on top of my muzzle so I can stay mostly underwater and still breathe and sniff the air. When I submerge, my nostrils close to keep out water. I can hold my breath for up to five minutes. I do not sweat, so staying in water helps me keep cool. I am so aquatic that my mother even gave birth to me underwater. I weighed somewhere between 50 to 100 pounds at birth, but quickly grew by nursing, sometimes even underwater. My name means “river horse,” but I am more closely related to the pig than the horse. My ears sit high on my head so I can still hear what’s going on above water while my body is mostly underneath. If my whole head goes under, my ears swivel to shake out water when I resurface. I can even hear underwater because my submerged jaw conducts sound waves. In the evenings the pods break up and leave the water to wander in search of food. For the remainder of the night, I graze on grass, eating up to 90 pounds in one night. I am the second largest land animal weighing from around 3,000 pounds to more than 6,000 pounds, but despite my massive bulk, I can run faster than you—up to 30 miles per hour.

3. I have only two natural predators: pumas and jaguars. Sometimes I try to outrun my attackers, but other times I will fight. Rearing up on my hind legs, I slash with my four-inch sharp claws. I have been known to grab an attacker and crush it with my powerful front limbs. When not eating, I am usually relaxing, resting up to 15 hours a day in a shallow depression I have scooped out of the ground. While resting, I cover my body with my bushy tail that helps conceal me from predators. I live in the swamps, humid forests, and savannahs of Central and South America. My home range can be as small as 124 acres or as large as 6,200 acres. My body is 50 inches long with a tail that extends to another 25-35 inches. I am mostly brown to gray brown with a darker stripe that extends from my throat to the middle of my back. Since my eyesight is poor, I sniff out my prey. Then using my powerful front limbs and large claws, I dig into the homes of my prey where I will use my two-foot long tongue to slurp up as many as 30,000 ants or termites in a single day.

4. My skin is black, but my fur is hollow and translucent, which makes it appear white or cream colored. I have a short tail and small ears and a tapered body to streamline me for swimming. I am an excellent swimmer and swim as far as 60 miles from shore. A semi-aquatic marine mammal, I live on land, sea, and ice. Stiff hairs on my paws insulate me from the ice. Although I may reach up to 11.5 feet and weigh from 300-600 pounds, at birth my cubs weigh only a pound and a half. My cubs are born in December without awakening me. I actually remain dormant while nursing my cubs until the entire family emerges from the den in March. Most animals can easily outrun me on the open land or in the open sea because I overheat easily, which is good for you because I do eat humans. I also like birds, rodents, shellfish, crabs, whales, young walruses, and occasionally musk ox or reindeer, but I mainly eat seals.

5. Native to Indonesia and Malaysia, my family resides in rainforests on the islands of Borneo and Sumatra. My sisters are 4 feet 2 inches tall and weigh around 100 pounds, while my brothers measure 5 feet 9 inches and weigh over 260 pounds. My mother stayed with us for the first 6-7 years before we became independent, living solitary lives. My name comes from a Malay and Indonesian phrase that means “person of the forest.” As a matter of fact, our species is the most arboreal of the great apes, spending nearly all of our time in trees. Every night we fashion nests to sleep in from branches and foliage. I am thought to be the world’s most intelligent animal, with higher learning and problem solving ability than chimpanzees, which were previously considered to have greater abilities. I use leaves to make rain hats and leak proof roofs over my sleeping nest. We actually have laughter-like vocalizations in response to wrestling, play, chasing, or tickling. I am also known for my long arms and reddish-brown hair.

6. I am a large wading bird in the marshes and wetlands of Africa. I build a large, deep stick nest in a tree, laying one or two white eggs. The incubation period is 30-35 days, with another 70-100 days before the chicks fledge. I am a huge bird, attaining a height of 5 feet with a 9-foot wingspan. I am spectacularly plumaged. My head, neck, back, wings, and tail are iridescent black, with the rest of the body and the primary flight feathers being white. My massive bill is red with a black band and a yellow frontal shield (the “saddle”). My legs and feet are black with pink knees. I am silent except for bill-clattering at the nest. I fly with my neck outstretched, not retracted like a heron; in flight, my large heavy bill is kept drooping somewhat below belly height, giving me a very unusual appearance. It has been suggested that due to my large size and unusual appearance in flight, my species was the basis for Sesame Street’s “Big Bird.” I feed mainly on fish, frogs, and crabs, but also on young birds, and other land vertebrates, moving in a deliberate and stately manner similar to the larger herons.

7. My brothers and sisters range in size from 2.9 to 4.9 feet and weigh from 110-330 pounds. All of us are powerful diggers, using both our heads and feet. When feeding, we often bend our front legs backwards and move around staying on the knees. Although we can dig our own burrows, we commonly occupy abandoned aardvark burrows and enter them “back-end first,” with our heads always facing the opening ready to burst out as needed. We are fast runners and quite capable jumpers, often running with our tails in the air. Despite poor eyesight, we have a good sense of smell, which we use for locating food, detecting predators and recognizing other animals. Although we graze in open grasslands, we prefer to forage in dense, moist areas because we eat grasses, roots, berries and other fruits, bark, fungi, eggs, dead animals, and even small mammals, reptiles and birds. Areas with many bulbs, rhizomes and nutritious roots can support large numbers of my family. A grouping of my family is called a sounder, which is usually composed of 3 to 10 of us, although groups as large as 30 will get together. The “core” of the sounder is usually a mom and her children, 2-8 each living from 15-18 years. We are all identifiable by two pairs of tusks protruding from our mouth, which we use as weapons against predators, for combat with other family members, and also for digging. Our upper canine teeth can grow to 9 inches. The tusk will curve 90 degrees or more from the root. We each have a pair of teeth in each jaw with the lower teeth being far shorter than the upper teeth but able to inflict severe wounds. Both pairs grow upwards, with the upper teeth being by far the more spectacular in appearance. The lower pair, however, are the more dangerous: the teeth are straight, sharply pointed, and keep a keen edge by the upper pair rubbing against the lower pair. The tusks, more often the upper set, are worked much in the way of elephant tusks with all designs scaled down. Tusks are carved predominantly for the tourist trade in East and Southern Africa.

8. I live in the dense rainforest of Uganda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo in Africa. The most fascinating fact about me is that I did not become known to the world until 1901. This was due to many factors including the fact that I lived in dense forestation; I live a very quiet, secretive life; my keen hearing helps me detect predators from great distances; and my velvety dark striped coat creates the perfect camouflage in the low light of the forest understory. Although I have stripes like a zebra, I am actually most closely related to giraffes. I am a large hoofed mammal that browses on a diverse diet of leafy vegetation.

9. I live in the forests and bush-covered mountains of Russia, northeastern China, and North Korea. Because of the harsh climate in which I live, I have a layer of fat on my flank and belly, long thick fur, and extra fur on my paws to protect me from the cold snow. I am also very large, reaching a length of 11 feet and weighing over 600 pounds. My large size gives me an advantage when hunting my favorite prey: wild boar, elk, and roe deer. Sometimes I snack on birds, fish, and even mice. I can climb trees but rarely do, and I am not a great runner, so rarely chase my prey very far, but will instead approach my target stealthily, taking cover behind trees, rocks or bushes until I am close enough to pounce on my unsuspecting victim. One large kill will provide food for several days, depending on whether it is to be eaten by just myself or shared with my offspring, which usually includes three kittens. Weighing only two to three pounds at birth, they quickly grow, so by two months are ready to follow me on a hunt. Their father is busy defending his territory of up to 4,000 square miles. To communicate with others, I spray upright objects. This tells other animals about my identity, gender, and the time the mark was made. I also talk by leaving visual clues made by raking the ground with my hind feet and clawing objects. If I feel like talking, I will roar, growl, snarl, grunt, moan, spit, hiss, or meow. Because of the reduction of my range, I no longer live in Siberia, and so have been renamed for the Amur River, which flows through the middle of my current range in Russia.

10. We live in northwestern Madagascar forests, moving through trees by walking and running on all four limbs and using our powerful legs to leap between branches. All of us are born black, but only the males in our family stay black. By six weeks old, the females are already developing their adult light brown body with white under parts, a dark gray face, and long white ear tufts. Adults are roughly the size of a house cat, not including the tail, which can be another two feet. We weigh between four and seven pounds. I might nibble on an occasional millipede, but for the most part I am a vegetarian, preferring to feast on seeds, leaves, flowers, nectar, tree bark, mushrooms, and most of all, fruit. As a matter of fact, a particularly fine piece of fruit can lead to quite a bit of squabbling among my group, which can consist of 4 to 15 members. We not only squabble when we want to talk to one another, but we also use a cohesion call to keep track of other group members, a recognition grunt when we recognize one another, an alarm call when we need to warn others of predators, or a purr to indicate contentment while being groomed. To groom, we use our lower incisors, which tilt forward at an angle of about 45 degrees. This special toothcomb is great for removing parasites and excess fur. We are cathemeral, which means we are active during several periods spread throughout the day and night. This is unusual since most other primates are either diurnal (meaning active during the day) or nocturnal (meaning active at night). Usually only a single baby is born. Young hitch a ride with mom, clinging to the fur on her abdomen. After we are a month old, we switch to riding on her back.

11.  I am the longest, most venomous snake in the world, reaching a maximum length of 18 feet. When threatened, I will spread a narrow hood and hiss loudly. My diet is fairly specialized and consists mainly of other snakes, including young pythons. I will use a body loop to pull dead vegetation and soil into a pile, which will serve as a nest where I will lay between 20 to 43 eggs. The nesting site is generally located in a bamboo thicket. Throughout incubation, I will remain coiled above or near the nest.

12. We are highly social rodents that live in large colonies called towns throughout the grassland prairies of western North America, living in underground burrows to protect us from coyotes and other predators. Our tunnels can descend vertically as much as 16 feet and can extend laterally as much as 100 feet. These towns of my family members can span hundreds of acres. We get our name from the shrill barking call that we use to communicate with each other. When we make social visits, we will often greet each other with a kiss.

Answers for Older Children

1. Black Rhinoceros-The River’s Edge
2. Hippopotamus-The River’s Edge
3. Anteater-The River’s Edge
4. Polar Bear-Bear Bluffs
5. Orangutan-Fragile Forest/Jungle of the Apes
6. Saddle-billed Stork-Antelope Yard
7. Warthog-Antelope Yard
8. Okapi-Antelope Yard
9. Amur Tiger-Big Cat Country
10. Black Lemur-Primate House
11. King Cobra-Herpetarium
12. Prairie Dog-Across from Sea Lion Basin