Now, I know what you're thinking. You're thinking, "I'd like to see some video of that."
Surprisingly enough, the bobcat love-fest was actually the side note of this particular anniversary present. The main event was Summer here:
Who doesn't like looking at the camera.
You have to understand: all his life John has dreamed of touching a tiger. We go to Animal Kingdom and just camp out at the tiger enclosure sometimes, and we visit zoos and aquariums everywhere we travel, since we're both big animal lovers. John's desktop image is always a new tiger photo, and every other day he sends me a video link to some big cat cubs being cute. We've researched Tiger Island in Australia, and if there's one thing that pains me more than any other about my anxiety, it's that it prevents me from flying there for John.
Then, the week before we left for Dragon Con, we got to do this:
And this is John, PETTING A TIGER:
The organization that let us do this, Single Vision, Inc, is an "endangered species educational facility." They visit schools and community events, raising awareness of endangered species and also caring for a fair number of rescues at their ultra-remote complex out near Gainesville, Florida. I've been to a ton of zoos and reserves in my time, but I can honestly say I've never seen happier cats and wildlife than at this place. They all had huge enclosures, separate play fields, and were unbelievably affectionate with their caretaker, Carl. It was truly amazing.
I managed to capture the chuff-to-the-face in this video, along with my delighted laughter:
TIGER BELLY RUBS. Omigosh, you guys. Oh...migosh.
Here's Mohan, a white tiger rescue, getting a good stretch in while sauntering over to say hello to John:
Summer has two adopted siblings, Leo and Bhutan, but they're too big now to interact with the public. They looked a bit jealous watching her trot out into the main yard to see us, though, don't you think?
This wasn't just a quick photo op with Summer, either; John and I got to spend a solid 30 minutes with her - just us and her handler - although most of that was spent watching her harass the ground's two area house cats, dog, and turtle:
"Don't you do ANYTHING interesting??"
Eventually the house cats retreated, leaving Summer with her next playmate/victim: Me. [gulp]
This is me, being mauled by a tiger.
(I should start a list of all the wild animals I've been attacked by. First a flamingo, now this!)
As amazing as all that was, I almost feel bad admitting what MY favorite interaction of the day was:
LEMURS IN DA HOOOOUSE!
He looks a little cranky there, but I assure you, these creatures were the sweetest, gentlest, most dainty grape-grabbers EVER:
They were also the softest things I've ever felt nuzzled up on my cheek before: like a cross between chinchillas* and cotton candy.
(*I had some as pets once - no fur coats here!)
I took turns feeding grapes to the one on my shoulder and several others. I found they were so gentle that I could hold out a tiny grape the size of my pinky tip, and they'd just lick my fingers with their little tongues while taking it from me. SO CUTE.
Well, that about wraps up our epic Anniversary experience. For the next week after this John and I kept turning to each other during odd moments and saying, "Hey, do you realize we petted a tiger cub a few days ago??" I think we still haven't absorbed it all - and John keeps watching and re-watching those videos I took with a hazy, happy look. [dusting hands] Yep. I think I did ok this time.
Hope you enjoyed our little trip to Wild Kingdom, guys, and stay tuned for my third and final Dragon Con photo post!