Yes. That is me feeding a lemur.
First up, I just want to say that I think these might be the coolest creatures in the universe. Secondly I have decided they are my Spirit Animal *wink*. But really, these guys (or girls as it turned out) melted me into a huge puddle of gooey love-at-first-sight. They were hilarious, adorable, and a little bit shy (but not too shy to insist that I hand-feed them their favourite treats - banana and kumara fyi). I really didn't expect them to capture my heart so, but they did. The lemurs stole my heart. It's true.
If you are wondering what I'm doing in their enclosure in the first place, this was a lovely surprise organised by the Auckland Zoo team, during our last visit. It made for a very memorable day that's for sure. Zan and I have spent a lot of time since, gazing at the list of Experiences they offer (I decided the minute I stepped into this enclosure that this would make a perfect gift for Zan), and I honestly think that it couldn't get better than feeding the lemurs... My only regret was that the kids are still too little to share the experience with, but we will definitely keep it in mind for when they're older.
We visited the orangutans next. Surreal as it was meeting the lemurs, this was even more so. These are not animals I ever imagined getting so close too! We stood outside these cages where an orangutan family waited for their next treat. Meanwhile the biggest guy (Charlie - cute name!) spat at us. Teehee! Apparently he was hoping for some sort of reaction but the mama in me carried on conversing as if I hadn't noticed, which turned out to be the best thing to do. Whew. I was also like 'cool! An orangutan spat on me! That doesn't happen every day!'
It was uber fascinating listening to the zoo-keepers discuss these animals. We set up one of their enclosures for an enrichment activity (Eleanor wasn't super pleased to see me on the other side of the glass), and I started getting just a tiny bit nervous (okay, a lot nervous) that they would then let the orangutans into the cage with us. Eventually I built up the courage to ask the zoo-keepers if this was the plan and was relieved to find that it was not. And was then embarrassed when they explained that these guys don't have human contact unless they are completely sedated. That Charlie was around ten times stronger than your average human male. *Ahem*. I guess I'm no animal expert. Perhaps I should be paying more attention when Zan watches David Attenborough docos.
Our final animal experience was one that everyone could enjoy. While we had missed the regular giraffe feeding time in the morning, they set up a special animal encounter just for us. This is something I've hoped to do for ages, and I loved seeing how my kids reacted to him.
Garland was very at ease with him, but Eleanor (check that picture above) got very nervous and refused to get close enough to actually feed him. She shot off pretty quick and watched from further afield (with much excitement I might add) as the rest of us fed him.
No fear whatsoever from this guy! Even though his little arm is shorter than the giraffe's tongue!
Zan of course was perfectly in his element, he is naturally at ease around animals.
Look at that girl! Too nervous to get close, but unable to contain her joy at being here (and thrilled to watch us feed him). It was a total buzz downloading these photos (which came complimentary with the Encounter), and watching this little story unfold. There are many more that I won't share here, but I think Eleanor will get a giggle out of them when she's older.
All in all, utterly memorable and an absolute highlight for all of us. It transformed our zoo visit into what felt like a once-in-a-lifetime experience (though technically we can experience this many more times than once, and there are a lot more animals to meet!). Last year it was whales, this year lemurs, orangutans and a giraffe. Life is good!
Before I go, checkit! We took this pic in front of a green-screen when we entered the zoo - and they made it look like we actually met a giraffe. Unbeknownst to us at the time, we were soon about to! I kinda love this photo of the four of us, a souvenir from a pretty special day...
The Auckland Zoo: Part One here
What We Packed for the Zoo here