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Austin- National Zoo

When we arrived in Cuba three months ago, I was looking forward to taking advantage of everything the country had to offer. One thing I didn’t expect to be offered, though, was the opportunity to go on an African safari. But when we took a trip to the National Zoo, we did just that: complete with zebras, elephants, giraffes, ostriches, rhinos, hippos, and even lions. The lions, to my dismay, were kept in a separate section of the zoo than the rest of the animals, making a Discovery Channel type lion vs. zebra chase impossible, but the safari was exciting nonetheless. We rode in a bus comparable in size to a school bus for about 30 minutes in total, as opposed to the typical safari jeep. Most of the animals didn’t even acknowledge us, and I felt safe knowing that it would probably take a well organized and synchronized charge from multiple rhinos to take us down. The most exciting part, by far, was when we drove through where the lions were. To get there, the bus had to pull through two gates. The first opened and closed behind us before the second opened to make sure no sneaky lions escaped into the zebra section while a bus was pulling in. At one point, when we drove past a group of lions, I stuck my hand out the window to snap a picture and it was probably only five feet from a lion’s mouth. What a thrill! All in all, I’d say the whole experience was a success: we all enjoyed ourselves, got some great pictures, and escaped will all our fingers in tact.