Attack Of The Prehistoric Featherduster!

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I’ve been to more zoos than I can count off my fingers. Small petting zoos in the States, with the usual complement of three or four haggard goats or small ponies, and some obese rabbits. Elegant European zoos, located in the backyard of some Earl’s castle. You can count on there being at least a few peacocks. Then there’s the more or less standard zoos, where lions, giraffes, elephants, and seals are the main attractions. I enjoy every zoo adventure we have, of course. We don’t go often enough for it to become commonplace in any way. But occasionally I’ve wondered if all zoos are so similar to each other. In general, zoos seem to be divided into two categories: petting zoos, and traditional zoos. They rarely mix to any real degree. After all, you can hold a boa constrictor, but try hand feeding a lion…

Up until today, I’ve never been to any zoo that combined the two. 

Greg Parker’s Wildlife Park, in Ballarat, is a family-owned zoo, of sorts. But unlike every other zoo I’ve ever been to, many of the animals at this park are allowed to roam free. We hadn’t been in the park for more than about two minutes before I felt a fuzzy snout poking at my pockets. It was an adorable Kangaroo Island kangaroo, in search of a handful of feed and a scratch behind the ears. This particular breed of kangaroo is extremely tame, even the wild. They practically live to be cuddled. And of course, I was happy to oblige!

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Emus wandered around as well. They’re somewhat less adorable. In fact, they look like a cross between a dinosaur and a feather duster. Really fascinating creatures, but I’ll admit that I was trying to keep out of the reach of those fierce beaks. I didn’t last long. One of them spotted my sack of feed and began to come after me. I frantically stuffed it in my pocket and started to contemplate running for my life. Don’t judge me. If battling a swan is a dangerous job, battling a bird that stands up to six feet high (though the ones we saw were more like four feet tall) would be suicide. It may have been wiser for me to simply have dropped the food and run, leaving my braver mother to coo over the bird. As it was, the creature lunged forward and deftly thrust its beak into my pocket (narrowly missing my hand) and came out again with the entire sack of food. I forgot my misgivings and indignantly snatched it back. That was it for my bravery. I avoided getting too close to any of the emus from then on. Ezra, however, would’ve tried riding one if he thought he could get away with it…

Luckily, not all of the creatures were so odd. By the end of our walk, I’d experienced a massive cute overload. I cuddled a koala! Patted a wombat! Scratched a kangaroo’s ears until he fell asleep! It really doesn’t get much better than that! Next time, however, I think I’ll not get between an emu and his food.

Mom loved them! I wasn't so sure...
Mom loved them! I wasn’t so sure…
"Have you food for a poor and weary kangaroo, ma'am?"
“Have you food for a poor and weary kangaroo, ma’am?”
A wombat!
A wombat!

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I think they look alike...
I think they look alike…
Mom and her emu.
Mom and her emu.

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One Reply to “Attack Of The Prehistoric Featherduster!”

  1. Sarah E. Albom says: Reply

    Death by emu :). They do look quite funny though, I would much rather have a kangaroo as a pet.

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