It seems like a thousand years ago now, but one time I went to South Africa and I got bit by an eagle when I was trying to pass a GI tube, and it eventually died from its injuries and, no, I was not allowed to dissect it afterwards. I was able to help the vet tranq' a few lion cubs to test for tuberculosis, and there were three wee cheetah cubs that needed some company every once in a while. I watched a few hundred vultures descend from the sky to eat meat scraps, and the hyenas woke me up almost every single night. I went to Kruger National Park on safari and I saw giraffe and elephants and warthogs and a tortoise crossing the road.
It was unbearably hot for the first week I was there, but then thunderstorms rolled in with a week of cool air. I decapitated, skinned, and disemboweled guinea pigs so that I could hand feed an aging wood owl. I never grew to like the kites. And I found the servals to be detestable animals.
Mostly though, I fell in love with a baby rhinoceros. Who was shy the first day that I met her, but quickly decided that I was good company. After being assigned to her care, we spent hours and hours together each day. She became like a shadow; one that needed its belly scratched and afternoon naps.
Eventually, long after I was home again, I understood that my most sacred morning coffee hours would forever be the ones where I sat snuggled up reading next to an eight month old rhino, while we watched the early African sun burn the mist off of the Drakensberg mountains. Bliss.
Maybe someday I'll write to you about the people, who turned out to be far more hair-raising and curious than the bushbaby or honey badger...
In the mean time, you guys can check out the whole set of Africa photos HERE.
Love & Baby Rhino,