Every year, the Microsoft Israel office has a "Give" campaign, with different things employees can bid on. This year, one of the items was a private tour of the safari in Ramat Gan. Donny thought that would be fun so he bid on it. Apparently, no one else did, because we actually won! Won something cool! Not like, "Here is your large pile of crumbs of unknown origin!" or "Someone will throw basketballs at your head every day for a month!"
They asked us when we wanted to have our day of fun (or DOF, as it's known in DADZ-verse), and naturally I picked the Friday of the 9 days, the no-swim-no-beach-how-do-we-entertain-our-kids-all-day day. We were told to get there at 7:15 so we could be there to help feed the animals before they opened at 9:00.
Digression alert! An all-too familiar parenting moment: Knowing we wouldn't have time for breakfast in the morning, I prepared food to take with us. I cut up fruit, made sandwiches and bags of cereal, put water bottles in the fridge on Thursday night so they'd be cold. I packed granola bars and crackers and tissues and diapers and wipes and a trusty plastic bag for whatever might need a quick disposal. As we're about to head out on Friday morning, this thought runs through my dear husband's head: Huh. We've got these kids! Let's see, there's one...two...three! Three of them! From what I remember, kids need food! We should probably - wait for it - take some with us! Let me tell Gila about this plan. She'll most likely swoon from the excellent parenting skills I am displaying.
"Should we take some food for the kids?"
[Patented withering mother look.] "Yes. What a good idea you had."
We arrived, and met Miki, who works at the safari. The first thing she did was drive us over to where the tractor is. Yaakov, Ariella and I got to ride on the feeding tractor. It has a big container with the animal feed on the back, and as we drove through, the farmer dude let out the feed and the animals came THIS CLOSE to us.
No zoom here, folks!
I have lots more cool pictures from the tractor, but I don't want to run the risk of becoming the "Look at all these adorable pictures of my child in slightly different positions staring at the camera with a gob of green gook on his cheek! Awwww!" blogger
There were lots of different animals. Deer and deer-like animals, something that I thought was a wildebeest (from my multiple viewings of "The Lion King") although the safari map said they were actually gnus (gnui?) - but wait! Google says that a wildebeest IS a gnu! Score one for wildlife education through Disney movies! Rhinos, hippos, birds that are not part of the safari but come for the free food, ostriches, and more that I can't remember.
Then we walked around the safari and got to feed giraffes,
chimpanzees (it's only 11 seconds, don't be afraid to click),
and saw the lions in their sleeping cages.
Then we got to hang out in the safari with the "regular" people, which was nice (only Ariella, who has gone the past 3 years with kaytanah, had ever been to the safari before), but it was super hot and somewhat of a letdown after our cool backstage tour.
Ariella decided to ride a pony. Yes, that equestrian hat was on the lice-ridden head of hundreds of other little girls and boys. We performed a thorough combing that afternoon.
So, even with our 6:00 wake up, it was a great day. And big shout-out to Donny, who, despite the earlier food incident, really came through for us. Not only did he win this very cool tour in the first place, but he gallantly offered to ride behind the tractor with the cranky one-year-old while I got to ride on it and meet some of our hoofed and snouted friends. And that, people, is true love.