Molding a lump of clay

Molding a lump of clay
I am a work in progress, molded by my Maker, refined by His fire, shaped with His love. Walk the journey with me.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

A mobile zoo in Arua!

Aidan came out of school last week saying, "Mom, there are animals at the golf course! They have lions and they're going to let a goat loose and let the lions chase and kill the goat!"

Yeah, right, I thought.

"Who told you that?" I asked.

"The teachers. They said we should go see the animals and it only costs 1,000/=. Can we go? Pleeeeeeaaaaase, Mom?!"

"Well, let's drive by the golf course on our way home and see if there are any lions chasing goats," I said. So we made a slight detour and went the longer way home.

All along the edge of the golf course there was nothing but the usual cows trying to find something green in all that dried brown grass, and women washing their clothes at the little stream.

When we got back up to the main road, I said, "Sorry, Bud, but it doesn't look like there are any animals there."

As we headed home, though, and passed the top part of the golf course that borders the main road, sure enough we saw a long stretch of tarpaulin that wasn't there before, and just peeking over the tops we could see the edges of cages.

"There they are!" Aidan shouted in my ear and then practically dove out the window trying to get a better look.

"Alright, alright...get back in here!" Sure enough there was a big sign saying that the Ugandan Wildlife Authority in conjunction with Entebbe Zoo had brought a mobile zoo to Arua.

I couldn't believe how excited my kids were to see these animals in cages, especially when we get to see them in the wild regularly on our way to Kampala as we pass Murchison Falls National Park. But hey...there's not much excitement in Arua so this was a big deal.

And actually, I was quite impressed with the mobile zoo. Not in terms of its grandeur or variety, but because of the heart behind it.

Talking to one of the animal keepers, he told me that many Ugandans still don't see the value in conserving wildlife. He said, "They ask me why we keep these dangerous animals alive...why don't we just kill them! So we have to start at zero to explain the importance of wildlife conservation in nature, and also the benefits we gain in tourism."

Huh...pretty cool, I thought. And in order to do this they set the entry fees very low so everyone can come and only cost 1,000/= Ugandan shillings (about $0.50) to get in and another 1,000/= to see the animals.

The lion was a big attraction and always had big crowds around it, although in that small cage and the heat of dry season...this is how it looked most of the time.

The highlight for us, though, was the massive python that they brought out several times a day. First they gave an educational talk about it, and then 2 handlers carried it out and allowed people to touch it and take pictures with it.

Aidan and Noah were absolutely stoked! John felt sorry for the snake. Kezi watched from the safety of Daddy's shoulders. I took the pictures and tried not to get crushed as the crowd pressed in around us.

So kudos to UWA and zoo keepers for taking another step forward in wildlife education and conservation! Well done, guys!

<--- Uganda's national bird = the Crested Crane