Outside of Tucson is a place to see critters and plants of the desert up close. Much like the little kitty above, you can see what lives here. The place is spread out over 98 acres. It’s in a very hot place in the summer (I visited at 105 degrees). It’s a full day to see it all.
They have an aquarium, a reptile & amphibians building, an art gallery, a cave with mineral gallery, two aviaries (one for hummingbirds), a dozen animal enclosures (like above Mountain Lion), cactus gardens, stingray touch pool, and 2 gift shops. Several hourly docent displays are spread out during the day. These include snake touching. Life cycles of the Saguaro cactus. Life in the rivers and streams in Arizona. And they change daily. Well versed people are waiting to explain how the desert works.
The landscape has been planted 55 years ago to represent as much of the Sonora desert that would predate human interference. While not all of these would grow here, they all live in the Sonora desert that covers from the Baja peninsula to New Mexico. Butterfly gardens include non native plants but the butterflies are wild feeding here.
The animals are here by assignment. The Mountain Lion was orphaned. The pair of Mexican grey wolves are a retired breeding pair that was used to restore native range. The Black bear was raised by humans. They live in nice sized enclosures with AC and shade. The 19 stingrays enjoy a covered pool and for $3 you can touch them ($3 more you can feed them shrimp).
“Ma’am, we have a report someone is charging to see a dog with horn.” Patrolman Jackson dryly explains.
“I don’t know what you are taking about?” Jenny scratches her head at the thought of where her Great Dane and son are.
“That sign is what I’m taking about, Ma’am” He replies.
Written as part of a challenge called Three Line Tales, details are available at https://only100words.xyz/2017/03/02/three-line-tales-week-57/
“It was upon the Full Beaver Moon. The spirits convened. It was the North wind they called. His creature. His law. Soft winds from other points came first. They danced. Their fingers reaching into the fire. Slowly pulling out long past memories from the embers of the glowing wood. The sparks tell of the great beaver that decimated the forest.” Joseph looks about his nephews.
Their young faces listening because they are without phone reception. The downed tree means little to them. Their uncle sees it as a monument. It is magically. Not alive as the tree but the actual mythical beast.
“The spirit never leaves. The Great Spirit sees to that. The land cried at the loss of the forest. Deer and elk long left. The black bear followed. Eagles and Hawks cried at their nests taken. The Beaver built a great house. Ten times what our people have. He hoarded the water. He fell every tree. Day and night he chews. He drags his wooden treasure. Stacked high.The animals called the spirits. The spirits came here. They cried for the mighty loss. The North wind came down. He stands canyon wall tall. He lifted to the top from the beaver’s home.” Joseph stops to collect his nephews attention.
“The Beaver, much like you. He sees not the problem caused but his gain. The North wind asked why every tree. The Beaver said you put them there for me. The North wind responded by making him the tree. The forest and animals, now safe, slowly returns.” Joseph spreads his hands wide.
“Can we go get something to eat now?” Greg looks up from his baseball cap. His patience long carried down stream.