This weekend I had the pleasure of visiting Jukani Wildlife Sanctuary, Monkey Land Primate Sanctuary and Birds of Eden, situated just outside of Plettenburg Bay, a small town on the Western Cape’s Garden-Route.
Our first stop was Jukani, I should start by explaining that these sanctuaries are not zoos or petting parks, they are sanctuaries true to the name. Setup to educate rather than entertain. And educate is exactly what they do. We were greeted by friendly staff and assigned a skilled sanctuary guide, Elvis.
Elvis was the avid entertainer, using sharp wit and funny anecdotes he kept our group completely enthralled. Jukani homes Lions, Tigers, Leopards, a 3-legged Springbok, a Honey Badger that cannot seem to keep still and as most already know, my favourite, the Wilddog. Elvis was equipped to answer questions from even the most inquisitive 10-year-old to the veteran traveller, he did amazingly well.
We headed to Monkeyland, the world’s first free roaming multi-species primate sanctuary. Again, we were met by very friendly staff and truly awesome guides.
Our guide, Andy, collected us in the waiting area and off we went. We saw Squirrel Monkeys, a beautiful Gibbon, Lemurs carrying babies, Capuchins – who run the show, even breaking other primates out of their quarantine cages, and a Vervet Monkey that steals shoes.
We then visited the Birds of Eden similarly a world first, a 2-hectare dome home to more than 3500 birds, with wooden walkways, a suspension bridge and a waterfall. Birds of Eden truly is a marvel.
Many of the birds in this free-flight sanctuary come from cages. Consequently, some of the Parrots are noticeably tamed where as other birds have only ever known small cages.
We are spoilt, we saw Cranes, Ducks, African Greys, Spoon bills, Geese and the amazingly beautiful Knysna Loerie. All the sanctuaries have a strict no touch policy as human interaction is detrimental to the rehabilitation of the animals. However, I was caught by a sneaky ninja-like park ranger, whilst joking with my 3-year-old that if she kissed a duck I’d buy her a bubble gum. Dear Ranger she wouldn’t do it for 6 bubble gums.
These sanctuaries are doing such amazing work when it comes to educating people about the animals they home, I am not doing them any justice trying to explain.
Go and visit, it truly is spectacular, the guides are educated the facilities are amazing and the love these guys have for all the animals they home definitely shows.
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