Friday, March 9, 2012

Vintage Caribbean Gardens

Original "Safari train" passing the Jaguar exhibit

Later "Safari trains" were pulled by a jeep with the same zebra striped paint job. I believe this area the train is passing through is what was known as the "Orchid Cathedral." I used to make up for any lost time, during the Midnight Time Trials mentioned below, passing through this area.

The Amazon with monkey island in the middle. Amazon was inhabited by Percy the tapir, two Galapagos tortoise, and Spider monkeys on the island. Jungle Larry was a Herpetologist and was queer for those Galop's. Each afternoon in the winter he would listen to the weather report from Sanabel Island and if it was to get down into the 50's he would have us go get the Galop's and bring them into the show building with heat lamps. Miserable, miserable assignment. We would have to walk all around the muddy muck of the Amazon which stunk like rotten eggs as it was fed by a natural sulfur spring. It wasn't bad during the day but in the evening it really stunk. We would usually find the Galop's down at the water's edge someplace buried in the muck with only their heads and the tops of their shells visible. We would have to pull them out by our fingertips under their shell, with the "monster's" struggling and trying to escape crushing your fingers between their shell and legs. When you finally got them out you would have to carry them up to the 4 foot fence that surrounded the Amazon, lift them up and balance the struggling monsters there while the Datsun pickup was backed up where they were loaded for the trip to the show building. Each morning they were taken back to the Amazon and each evening the "hunt" to find them repeated it's self. What a wonderful, wonderful time I cherish to this day.

The ostrich pen behind the Horn Bill cage and across from a seldom used old lion exhibit. When the females would lay eggs, we had to go in and get them for incubation. We drew straw's to see who had to get the egg's. The rest of us would stand outside the pen to lure the male's and females so the short straw man could rush in grab a handful of eggs and get out before the birds realized what was happening. We used to enjoy goofing on each other, and we would wait until the hapless egg retriever was just at the nest in the middle of the exhibit, then we would turn around and walk away. The wing flopping, beak clacking, jumping up and down, angry as hell ostrich would wheel around, see the egg snatcher and charge after him. You would have to quick put the eggs back down and run like the wind for the gate and do a "Fosbury flop" over the top bar to escape their wrath. One pulled my boot off one time when I got hung up and couldn't get off the gate. LOL

Jungle Larry was also queer for lions and had 19 exhibit lions, in addition to the show lions when I was working for him. To justify having that many lions he had two exhibit's, on know as the Plains Lions and one known as the Bush Lions. This is the Plains Lions exhibit just down from the Commissary. Any male's born with light manes became Plains lions and any born with darker manes became Bush lions.


Bob Cline said...

I was working for them when they bought the three Kubota tractors to pull the trams.

Bob Cline said...

At the time I was there, the old Gift shop in back was gone except for the flooring. The area underneath was where we stabled the elephant at night in inclimate whether. She would walk that back road for about 30 feet then the race was on. There were a couple times that she stopped at the tiglons cage ( end of the Access road ) and just stood there watching as if to say "what took you so long" That was Kongo. Hadari came in as the baby and I took her to Ohio in the horse trailer with the llamas and my truck was filled with various supplies.