By Hema Ravi
We had an incredible weekend at one of the most scenic spots in the Western coast of the United States, which boasts of diverse ecosystems — endless stretches of alpine meadows and forests, large temperate rainforests, rugged Pacific coastline, snow-capped hills, meandering rivers, glacial-carved lakes and more. A fun-filled weekend sojourn that brought along experiences ranging from invigorating to introspective.
Before I continue, let me tell you that it is not a mere recording of places visited at the Olympic National Park. Well, we visited several fascinating places that include Hurricane Ridge, Crescent Lake, Mary mere Falls, Dungeness Spit among others.
I would like to highlight our visit to the Animals Farm. Other places were already in the itinerary; this place came up during a chance meet with a friend. He strongly recommended that we visit this farm, where animals that once acted in Disney films are housed. On their website, I read that for about 28 years, the Olympic Game Farm worked exclusively for Walt Disney Studios. Sadly, after the death of Walt and Roy Disney, Disney studios moved away from such films. Consequently, after securing the right permissions, the founding members of the Olympic Game Farm opened it to the public, and concentrated on offering ‘in need’ services to captive-bred animals.
The hour long drive-through experience at Olympic Game Farm was exhilarating, surreal and fascinating. We drove through rugged pathways with car windows shut, occasionally opening a chink to feed llamas, elk or any other young animal that we thought would not ‘charge’.
The smell of fresh bread (bought at the farm, outside food is a no-no!) attracted the animals to us. While we were throwing slices to the young llamas, small groups of older llamas came up and that was rather intimidating; at times, we were surrounded, rather imprisoned in the car for several minutes until another passing vehicle caught their attention. Llamas, Tibetan yaks and elks daringly peeped from outside, smeared the glass windows abundantly with their saliva, especially when we did not open them to offer food.
The most interesting field was the enclosure that had over a dozen brown-bears. For over five minutes, we watched and took pictures of one of them drinking water, simultaneously enjoying a shower. Beckoning the ranger, the playful bear opened its mouth wide and let out its tongue, gesturing him to place the pipe over its open mouth…..through gestures, it signalled that it wanted water over its body. The spectators watched through their car windows in childlike glee.
This awesome and unforgettable scene urged me to share my thoughts. I strongly believe these wild creatures have a heart and mind; they enjoy company as much as we do. The lanky ranger was enjoying this act as much as the bears were; yet another bear held its paws open to drink water. Another large one was pacing anxiously, possibly waiting for its turn.
Rangers were constantly circling around on vehicles and speaking through loudspeakers telling visitors not to stop near the American bisons and the bull elks. They could turn aggressive, if provoked. We did, as we were directed. We quickly drove past the cages where the Siberian tigers, lynx and a few other animals were housed.
As we made a reluctant exit (More sightseeing!), the high-pitched calls of the beautiful peacocks, whistling sound of a passing eagle, the shriek of the gulls and a raven’s caw continued to echo in the vast space.
I had witnessed one such scene earlier in a zoo in India, when I watched an Australian cassowary following a staff as he swept the cage; the large colourful bird followed him meekly until he cleaned the cage and sat down to spend some cuddly moments with it; however, at this point of time, the adorable brown bear is a favourite for my pen.
Hema Ravi describes herself as a part-time language trainer by profession, writer by passion. She is a poet, author, reviewer, editor (Efflorescence), event organiser, independent researcher, and resource person for language development courses
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