Cake. I promised to talk about cake. But first, let’s talk about Robin’s birthday activity.
For years, we have all been wanting to visit Noah’s Ark. Robin is crazy about animals, especially cats, so an animal sanctuary famous for its big cats was too good to pass up. If you’re not familiar with this little animal sanctuary in the middle of Georgia, it became famous for their “BLT” trio: a bear, lion, and tiger. From their website:
BALOO THE AMERICAN BLACK BEAR (URSUS AMERICANUS), LEO THE AFRICAN LION (PANTHERA LEO), AND SHERE KHAN THE BENGAL TIGER (PANTHERA TIGRIS TIGRIS); KNOWN AS “THE BLT” CAME TO NOAH’S ARK IN 2001 AFTER THEY WERE DISCOVERED BY POLICE OFFICERS IN A BASEMENT OF AN ATLANTA HOME DURING A DRUG RAID. AT ONLY A FEW MONTHS OLD, ALL THREE CUBS WERE FRIGHTENED, MALNOURISHED, AND INFECTED WITH INTERNAL AND EXTERNAL PARASITES WHEN THE GEORGIA DEPARTMENT OF NATURAL RESOURCES BROUGHT THEM TO NOAH’S ARK.
The trio became quite famous for their bond and it’s one of our greatest regrets that we didn’t get a chance to see them in their prime. Unfortunately Leo the lion passed away in 2016 and Shere Khan followed in 2018.
Baloo, an American black bear, was in the worst condition of the three cubs rescued with a severely ingrown harness digging into his flesh because it was never loosened as he grew in size. The harness was so ingrown that his flesh had begun to grow over and around it, and surgical intervention was required to remove the harness and clean his deep, infected wounds. During Baloo’s surgery was the only time the three BLT brothers have ever been separated from one another, and Shere Khan (tiger) and Leo (lion) became extremely agitated because of it, pacing and vocalizing for the lost member of their family to return. After his surgery, Baloo was returned to his brothers and the three have been together ever since, with hardly a quarrel between them. […] We have a bereavement plan in place for Baloo and will be monitoring him closely to ensure that loosing his last brother doesnt take an adverse physical toll on his health. He was with Shere Khan this morning every step of the way and will be present for his burial as well, just like he was for Leos burial.
The weather for the week of Robin’s birthday was wasn’t bad except for her actual birthday. The temperature in middle Georgia that day was in the high 90s and we were very ill prepared to walk the outdoor animal sanctuary. Never mind that it was only about a mile to a mile and a half of trails. We were overheating like crazy and I genuinely thought I or the kids were going to get literal heat stroke. They were NOT sweating and just turning red; luckily, I was sweating like a pig.
It’s not the fanciest place considering you can go for free—yes, FREE. They run entirely on donations, proceeds from their gift shop, and other products that directly benefit the animals. You know you want to buy a lion or tiger an indestructible toy ball! A slow pace and making bee lines to shaded bench areas was all that was getting us through. Being the complete idiot I am, I didn’t think at all that we’d need water because of how short the trail was. There were no fountains along the trail or in the gift shop that I could remember. All of the water from the park comes directly from a well on the property. A sulfur well. So not only was it lukewarm well water, it also smelled of rotten eggs.
That explained the bathroom smell, at least.
Bottled water from the lone vending machine was $2 each for which we eagerly paid. Seeing the animals was a great experience but overall the weather absolutely ruined it.
The price of admission is really reflected in terms of the general feeling of wear throughout the property, but for the most part, the animals have large open spaces to move about. It’s far from perfect, but leagues better than some other so-called sanctuaries we’ve visited in the past. For the record, we did give a monetary donation and bought the kids some tee shirts, magnets, and stickers, most of which have since been lost.
One plus was the local Burger King/gas station combo. It sounds silly but that place was HEAVEN. The bathrooms were HUGE and clean, there was a waiting area to cool off and recharge figuratively and literally with comfortable lounge chairs and couches with accessible outlets to charge devices. It was near the highway so they were built specifically for highway traffic. Standard Burger King fare and gas station tchotchkes of course, but 10/10 would recommend stopping on a scorchingly hot birthday excursion.