Meet Butch, on his way to join us for breakfast.
Butch did bring us our breakfast, as promised, but it was more about feeding him his really.
Fond good-byes to our ten foot tall new best friend.
Last night we slept in tent-cabins in the middle of an elephant sanctuary in Northern California. The elephants have been purchased from circuses and such to allow them a humane and well cared for retirement. Our cabin overlooked their park, which they share with some water buffalo and a zebra who thinks she's an elephant.
Yesterday we took a tour of the rest of the venture, called Wild Things, where some other exotic animals are raised and work one on one with their handlers from the beginning so that they can enjoy country walks on leash every day, around the compound, and also participate in educational events and some movie shoots etc. which finance the elephant sanctuary.
During the dark night, far enough away from the city's light pollution that there were more stars than sky, the canvas walls flapped gently as the breeze came and went from the nearby ocean. We awoke several times to a lion's roar and once to the unusual house-alarm imitation by Ed, the Hyena. Hyenas are a lot bigger than they look on TV. The hair on their backs grows from back to front, to help improve aerodynamics as they steal from hungry lions and run away backwards, dragging their loot. Hyenas have a crush strength in their jaw second only to the Nile crocodile. They don't just bite your arm, they bite it off. Ed doesn't get to go for walks, despite his/her cuteness. Hyenas come with dual-purpose genital equipment so it is hard to tell without a really close encounter whether they are male or female. No-one has volunteered to take a closer look at Ed, as yet.
I enjoyed every minute of our stay; learning new things about the animals was an unexpected bonus. The close encounter with Butch the Elephant was a deeply moving experience that I shall treasure.