Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined.

Henry David Thoreau

Lions and Tigers, Dragons, Bats and Pheasants…Oh My!

Wednesday December 6, 2017                                                                           Most Recent Posts:
Fort Wilderness Campground                                                                             Holiday Magic Already
Disney World                                                                                                     Easy Pace at Gamble Rogers
Orlando,  Florida

David has to go into Orlando today for a visit to the clinic.  I’m off to Animal Kingdom where he’ll meet me  later.  In order to get to Animal Kingdom, I have to take a bus up to the entrance to Fort Wilderness to the Outpost where buses to all the resorts except Magic Kingdom arrive and depart.  Animal Kingdom is a 15 minute bus ride away.  It’s amazing how large the Disney World complex is, 28000 acres.

First thing at Animal Kingdom of course is the tree.  The sky is so bright in every direction that my camera darkens the tree and it just isn’t a true picture of what I saw.   Wish I knew how to compensate for lighting problems.

As on the other trees that are this giant size, the ornaments are giant as well.  Eyore looks a bit concerned there under the tree.

As on previous days, I’m on the first bus at the campground and the first bus to Animal Kingdom.  Arriving early means many of the streets are nearly empty when I come on them.  I sure never expected to see this sight on the bridge into Africa.  I guess someone is renting Animal Kingdom for their wedding?  Really?

The reason I think this is that I see signs around later in the day that say Animal Kingdom will close at 6pm tonight for a “private event”.  I’m actually shocked that it is for sale.


Thank goodness they speak English here as well as Swahili.

I wonder if this is where the wedding party will be staying?


Just outside the Safari booking office I find a group of  African Cranes



I have a fast pass later in the day for doing the safari when David can join me but since it’s early and there is no wait, I decide why not see how different what I see is in the morning compared with later in the day.

Angie is the driver of our safari buggy and she does a great job of navigating the rough roads and pointing out the wildlife.  And most important of all, she didn’t talk so fast we couldn’t understand her which has been my experience on many of these tours.

I suspect you’ll recognize all of these African animals but in case you don’t, the first one we see is a hippopotamus.  They love water and spend up to 16 hours a day in it.  They sure don’t look big submerged but they can weigh 3.5 tons.  That’s BIG!

Wild Dogs

Ankole-Watusi cattle


One of my favorites, the giraffe.



My African Parks specialist Gaelyn tells me these are Springbok Antelope.  They were running like streaks chasing each other.  It was almost impossible to follow them and totally impossible to photograph them.  I settled for a picture of the part of the group that was standing still watching the chasing going on.

Vying for top honors as my favorites along with giraffes are elephants.



The wind almost took this woman’s hat off as we went by this flock of  Greater Flamingos.  These are not the same species as those in Central and South America who used to live in the southern Everglades of Florida.


All Flamingos depend on a diet of shrimp for their pink color.  The more the shrimp, the more the pink.


Later in the day when asked what animal he most wanted to see, David said, the lion.  I was lucky enough to get to see both the male and a female this morning.


Animal Kingdom is 500 acres in size.  That’s 5 times the size of the Magic Kingdom and more than twice the size of Epcot.  And no wonder given the size area many animals need.  The Safari ride area is divided into three sections, an African Forest and a Savannah East and Savannah West.  I assume this is to keep the preditors and prey separate.


A second female was keeping a look out on the highest rock.


When your safari is over, you’ll exit right here at the sign for the Gorilla Falls Exploration Trail.
It too is a fairly large area home to a group of bachelors and a family grouping.  This morning I stopped by to check out the bachelors.


There were two guys in view on one side of the bridge.   The first seemed to have a hankering for what looked like bamboo.  Perhaps it wasn’t since I thought that was the Panda’s preference.


But after picking through the stalks, he spent his time happily leaning against a tree with his back to us.


A second gorilla comes in from the right and goes down into a moat like area for a bit.


When he decides to climb back up and head over to the other side I wonder whether they will encounter each other.


The second gorilla climbs up and walks over to the bamboo looking stuff.   He shows no interest, goes on up and walks right by the first gorilla without even giving him a look and walks off behind the rock to an area of their land not visible to us.   No drama.


By now it’s only 10:00 so I wander on over into Asia.


I’ve done  a safari in Africa, time to do a Trek in Asia.  First thing on the Maharajah Jungle Trek is the Komodo Dragon..  Not sure why she’s called a “dragon” except that dragons are revered creatures in some Asian Cultures.  She’s actually a very large and very dangerous lizard.


This is a seriously relaxed picture.  Doesn’t she look like she’s melting into this rock?  The reason is that being from Indonesia, she likes it warm hot.  It is hot in Orlando in the summer time but not today.  Plus there is no sun out to warm up the rock for her.  Thus, for our viewing pleasure and her comfort, the rock is heated.  HA!

It’s the almost asleep look.

They have been the dominant species on Indonisia’s Lesser Sundra Islands for millions of years.  They can reach 10 feet in length, weigh 300 pounds and eat pretty much anything including deer, pigs, water buffalo and humans.


I’m checking out her claws and thinking, how do they eat something many times their size.  I ask the information person how they use the claws and she tells me they don’t climb, they patiently wait using their camouflage coloring until unsuspecting prey come by and they spring using powerful legs, sharp claws and serrated shark like teeth to eviscerate their victim.  Oh my!!

If the victim can escape, that only works for a short time since the dragon’s saliva contains over 50 species of bacteria and within 24 hours, the victim dies of  blood poisoning.  The dragon just patiently follows its prey with its keen sense of smell and waits for the corpse.  They then use the claws for ripping and can eat up to 80% of their own weight in a single feeding.

Oh, and they can run up to 11 mph in short bursts.   I sure wouldn’t want to be her keeper.

Next up it’s feeding time at the fruit bat house.  These are the Malayan Flying Fox Fruit Bats.
They are pretty scary looking too but they are no threat at all to humans.   I’m lucky to have happened by when the keepers are hanging these sugar liquid, fruit and salad breakfasts out for the bats who are not nocturnal but like many of us will nap after a big meal.



There are a pair of bats playing or fighting we’re not sure which.  I try to get some pictures of them but they just turn out to be a big black blurr.  The keepers put food out to  lure them apart.


Reach those long “arms” out to grab that food.  It seems very cool to me to have arms with hands on the ends that are actually wings you can spread to fly.  I think I’d like that a lot as long as I didn’t have to hang upside down all the time.



Check out those  little hands.


The red hair is too much.


There are at least a half dozen or more bats here and they have different ways of approaching their food.


I know, enough bats.  But they really are fabulous and I’ve never seen them being fed before.

IMG_7614However, my main reason for taking the Trek is in hopes of being able to see my favorite Asian Animal the Sumatran Tiger.  They are the smallest surviving tiger subspecies.  There are only an estimated 500-600 left in the wild.  They have decreased by over 50% in less than 20 years largely due to poaching and deforestation for palm plantations for palm oil on the Island of Sumatra.

Animal kingdom has two Sumatran Tigers, a male and a female.  They have successfully bred and two cubs were born in August.  Very exciting for keeping the species alive but very sad that their status in the wild is so endangered.  Words just can’t describe what a regal cat he is.  What a face!!

The female was in the tiger house with the cubs who will finally be coming out into the open areas within the next week or ten days.  But, sadly for me, I’ll be gone by then.   But lucky for me, the male was out lounging today and I was able to see him.  But heads up Nancy and Bill, they should be out when you and Julie are here so send pictures!!    And for those who can’t wait until then, here’s picture of them from the Disney website. Their names are Jeda and Anala, a male and a female.

baby tigers

The buildings and walk ways along the Trek seem very authentic looking.



I finish up my Trek in the bird house where there are some seriously amazing looking birds.

Looks way more handsome than our doves but I didn’t get his name.

  Wonderful looking feeders.

Wish we could trade some of our obnoxious starlings for some of these but then “our” starlings don’t belong over here in the first place.

But the bird of the day was this enormous Great Argus Pheasant.  He’s can be 63 to 79 inches tall which is taller than I am.  That’s one single tail feather.   When in the bird area, it is wise to look up as well as around.  Just imagine my shock when I looked up and saw this in a tree above my head.

Not such a beautiful face but look at those exquisite feathers both outside and inside.


By now it’s time to head back to the entrance to meet David.  On my way I stop off at the island ruins which is home to the fascinating Gibbons family.  They are such an entertainment, you could spend hours here just watching them.  But this post is way long enough so the Gibbons will have to wait until next time.

Apparently I can’t do the wonders at Animal Kingdom on just one day in a single post.


  1. Thank you for all the great photos. I have never been to Animal Kingdom but I think it should be on my list.

  2. Your photos of the animals are wonderful! I know we share ambivalent feelings about animals in captivity, but those certainly look healthy and seem to have plenty of space to roam. And there's no doubt that the work they do in preserving endangered species is essential. The Komodo dragon gives me the creeps, but I like the bats. And those tiger cubs are adorable! Too bad they weren't out while you were there, but you got wonderful photos of the mother tiger. :-)

  3. Great photos...the tiger photos are my favorites!!! We will try to see the cubs in January...thanks for the heads up:o))

  4. What a fun post! I love the lion ornament. My Dad is a Leo and has a lion collection. I have always thought bats were a little creepy but they are fascinating. I have seen videos of them being cared for and pet by their caretakers. The first bird looks like a cross between an eagle and a parrot (for the colored feathers). The texture in that pheasant's feathers is cool. I don't know how they can support all of those feathers. Good thing the feathers are attractive because his/her feet and head are not. The komodo dragon is super cool but, no, I wouldn't want him to chase me. I didn't expect that he'd have razor sharp teeth but otherwise, he wouldn't be able to eat the huge animals he catches. (Waits for them to die and then finds and eats them....gross!%$? You got an amazing picture of the tiger. He's gorgeous! Glad you had such a good time! xxxooo

  5. Such a wonderful variety of critters. The lioness on the rock is spectacular - queen of all she surveys! The bats are my favorites this time. I agree that their design is ingenious - and their little faces are so cute! Those tiger cubs are precious. Ambassadors for the future of the species for sure. Looking forward to seeing the Gibbons and the rest of your fun day.

  6. So happy to visit Animal Kingdom. Makes me homesick for South Africa. I believe the antelopes are Springboks. I'm glad these animals have such a large terrain. Rather disappointed Disney sells out for weddings. Plus leave it to them to heat a rock. Dangerous critter. OMWow the Tiger! I'm so excited. We get to go back!

  7. During WWII, my dad was stationed on Saipan and tells how he came face-to-face with a huge komodo dragon in the jungle. He still shivers when he talks about it. I prefer to see them at the Animal Kingdom. :c)

  8. Good post about the Animal Kingdom. Those people must have lots of money to be able to rent out the park for their wedding!

  9. Wonderful sightings and beautiful pictures that capture the wonder of these creatures! That huge gorilla is amazing for sheer size & nothing compares to the tiger for majesty I think.

  10. Those cubs are precious!! What an amazing place! Great photos of all the fascinating creatures. I learned a lot from this post. PS-I can't even imagine the cost of a wedding there (that's where you were when I called, I think...seeing that bride!!)

  11. I would love to go there and see those amazing animals! I have come face to face with a komodo dragon in the Philippines! Great posts of the animals!


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