Animal Adventure Park

Did you take part in the baby watch for April the giraffe online? Have you ever wondered what zoo April was in? April is in Animal Adventure Park in central New York State about 15 minutes or more from Binghamton.

Animals
This is Johari. She is part of the new couple. As the sign says you can only feed her carrots.

The main draw at the zoo due to the live webcams in their barn has been the giraffes. The zoo has become famous worldwide as people went into baby watch mode for momma giraffe, April. She gave birth to Tajiri (15 April 2017) and Azizi (16 March 2019). There is a new giraffe couple, Oliver and Johari.

April and her two babies, Tajiri and Azizi.
This is the youngest baby of April, Azizi.

Animal Adventure Park is more than just giraffes. The park has over 250 animals with over 100 species represented. Some animals you can get fairly close to such as llamas, alpacas, giraffes, and sheep. Others you can view from behind tall fencing such as monkeys, lemurs, wolves, and white lions. Different continents are represented from the American black bear to Chilean flamingoes and from the Tibetan yak to the African warthog. Mammals, birds, and cold blooded creatures, this little zoo packs in a lot of variety.

Flamingoes watching the people go by. Are humans on display or are the animals?
Alligator enjoying the sun.
The official cat of the zoo. The story I heard from one of the employees was she came with the farm when they bought it. She acts like she is the owner of the zoo.
Feed the Animals

When you visit the zoo you will have opportunities to feed many of the animals. For $3 you can buy a handful of carrots to feed the giraffes or buy a cup full of pellets you can give to many of the animals. They also sell lettuce to feed the turtles and grapes to feed some of the other animals. The animals are quite happy to see you when you have food and it leads to many good photo or selfie opportunities. On my second trip I saw zoo keepers come out and let some children bottle feed some of the baby animals.

If the animals see you come close with food they will come right over to you. This appears to be an alpaca.
Animal Encounters

If you book in advance, you can participate in an animal encounters. These afford the visitor a little closer access to some of the animals. You get to feed them yourself and take pictures in a closer proximity than when you stroll around the zoo. A zoo keeper gives you all kinds of information about the animals. I was able to do the Sloth encounter. I feed them and took photos. They currently have one male and two females in hopes one of the females will breed.

One of the three sloths at the zoo.
Sloth snack time. Look no hands!
Handicap Accessible

I would say this zoo is fairly accessible. The paths/roadways within the zoo are wide and there are no stairs. On both visits I made to the zoo I saw people navigating the exhibits in wheelchairs. They also host a low sensory night for people with sensory issues.

Concessions

The zoo has a a few concession stands. They serve fast food items such as hamburgers, grilled cheese, chicken nuggets, chips, soda, and ice cream. If you have food sensitivities I would recommend bringing you own food in a cooler and leaving it in the car. You can leave the zoo and return with a hand stamp or receipt. This zoo is in a very rural area and there are no restaurants close by.

Gift Shop

Animal Adventure Park offers different animal related items in their gift shop and also through their online store. There are t-shirts, stuffed animals, etc. The t-shirts in the gift shop favor their main draw: giraffes, but there are others available online.

Location

This zoo is located at 85 Martin Hill Road in Harpursville, NY. On the route the GPS sent me there were no signs advertising Animal Adventure Park. It made me a little worried the first time I visited, but the Sat. Nav. took me to the right spot. This zoo is about 15 minutes or more northeast of Binghamton. I am told it is about a 3 hour drive from New York City and a 2 hour drive from the Newburgh-Beacon Bridge in the Hudson Valley.

Parking

I arrived before they opened both times I visited on a weekday during the summer. I was able to park in their lot at the zoo entrance. They do have overflow parking in another location nearby.

I highly recommend this little zoo. They appear to take great care of the animals and work with animals that are endangered or close to endangered. The zoo is very family-friendly and sponsors many events. If you love animals and want to see them up close make a trip to Animal Adventure Park.

For more information go to their website: https://theanimaladventurepark.com/park-info/ or https://theanimaladventurepark.com

Dock Dogs

What competitive sports are out there for your dog to participate in? Does your dog like water? Does your dog like to fetch? If so, you may want to consider training your dog to be involved in Dock Dogs.

Some dogs were new to the sport and had to have encouragement to get in the water.
What is it?

Dock Dogs is an aquatic sport for your canine friend. The category I have witnessed several times is the Big Air competition. The handler throws a toy off a dock towards a long pool of water. The dog jumps off the dock to try to catch or retrieve the toy. The dogs are judged on how far they jump. They measure the distance from the end of the deck to where the dog’s tail hits the water.

All these photos were taken at the Dock Dog events at the Dutchess County Fair in New York. This is an annual event at the Dutchess County Fair with competitions happening three times daily during the fair.
This guy almost caught the toy in mid air.
Who can participate?

This is open to dogs as young as 6 months old and handlers as young as 7 years of age.You would think the bigger the dog the farther they would go. However, as I witnessed, that is not necessarily the case. Some of the large dogs may only jump 5 feet while a smaller dog can top that. A medium size dog might go quite far. Regardless, the dogs all appear to be enjoying the competition win or lose.

Big Air
Canines of different breeds participated. Some were rescues as well.
Very focused
Other Events

I have only witnessed Big Air events, but Dock Dogs also has other competitions. They also have an Extreme Vertical event. Extreme Vertical is about how high upward the dog can launch to grab a bumper. A third event is the Speed Retrieve. This event is timed. The dog has to run, jump, and swim to the end of a pool to retrieve a bumper that is suspended over the water.

Does your dog love the water? Do they want to play fetch with you endlessly? Why not up the game? Involve them in Dock Dogs. Even if you don’t have a dog the events are a joy to watch.

Greyfriars Bobby

Have you ever had a pet that was very loyal to you? How do you honor a dog that went above and beyond in loyalty to his human? In Edinburgh, Scotland they found a few ways to honor one such dog. Greyfriars Bobby is not a tale, but a true story.

John Gray went to Edinburgh with his wife and son looking for work. He accepted a job as a police constable. He was provided with a place to stay in the neighborhood he worked in.

Working Dog

Police during that time worked with dogs. It is said John Gray adopted a Skye terrier around 1856. He named the dog Bobby. Bobby followed John around on his rounds. John and Bobby would make a routine of stopping at a coffee house near the Greyfriar’s Church.

John Gray became ill and in early 1858 he died of consumption or tuberculosis. Bobby followed the funeral procession through the Burial Gate to Greyfriar’s Kirk (churchyard) where John was buried.

One entrance to the churchyard and it could be the Burial Gate.
Loyal

John Gray’s family was said to have taken the dog home, but he kept returning to his master’s grave to hold vigil. James Brown, a gardener at the church, gave Bobby food and water and allowed him to stay. Usually dogs were chased away from the churchyard. Fellow police constables on patrol through the churchyard recognized John Gray’s dog and feed him a little as well. Also it is said a man named James Anderson, who lived above what is now the Greyfriars Bobby bar, would go and fetch Bobby on stormy nights and bring him inside his place.

A sergeant at Edinburgh Castle heard about Bobby and took an interest in him. Sgt. Scott trained Bobby that the one o’clock gun meant dinner. It became an attraction for people to stand at the churchyard gate to see Bobby leave at the one o’clock gun and walk to the Eating House. After he was done eating he would walk back to the grave. This continued when the place changed hands and was named Traill’s Temperance Coffee House.

Danger came when it was decided all dogs in Edinburgh needed to be licensed. If they were not they could be put to sleep or destroyed. The optics of putting such a loyal dog to sleep would have been terrible, so the Lord Provost of Edinburgh William Chambers stepped in and paid for Bobby’s license and bought him a collar.

Famous Dog

Newspapers started to write stories about Greyfriars Bobby. People came to paint pictures of him. The Traill family who ran the Coffee House Bobby visited at one o’clock everyday had a photo taken with him.

Bobby died January 14, 1872. The Traill family buried Bobby in a triangular flower bed beneath a tree in the Greyfriars Churchyard in secret. They put up a headstone that someone later removed.

Honoring Bobby
People think it is good luck to rub Bobby’s nose, but they ask you not to do that as it affects the statute.

In 1873 a bronze statue was made of Bobby with a granite fountain was donated by Baroness Angela Georgina Burdett-Coutts. There was a trough at the bottom of it for dogs to drink out of.

The Huntly House Museum in Edinburgh has two of Bobby’s items. They have the collar presented to Bobby by Lord Provost William Chambers. They also have the metal dish Bobby ate from at the Coffee Shop from 1862-1872. They also have the photo of Bobby with the Traill family and their coffee house.

In 1981 a new headstone funded by the Dog Aid Society of Scotland was erected for Bobby in the Greyfriars Churchyard. They believe it is in the same area he was buried.

Bobby’s master, John Gray’s headstone

Various books were made in his honor telling his story. A Disney movie was made about Bobby, although they say the facts are incorrect.

These are just a few of the books written about Bobby.
This book is more factual. The author sites sources for his information. I used this as one of my sources for this post.
The statue of Bobby is in front of this pub across this side street.

There is a pub now near the statue named Greyfriars Bobby.

Pub sign for Greyfriars Bobby

Greyfriars Bobby was an incredible dog with an incredible story. How loyal is your pet? How far would you go to honor your animal friend?

Godrevy Lighthouse

Sometimes I like to tick off two boxes at once when I travel. When viewing wildlife it is also nice if the area you go to has a lovely view. If you are like me you may want to visit the area near Godrevy Lighthouse. Not only can you view seals, but you also have gorgeous views as well.

Godrevy Lighthouse is on Godrevy Island in the Atlantic Ocean off Cornwall, England, a stone reef stretches from Godrevy Island towards St. Ives. Many vessels shipwrecked it that area prior to the lighthouse being constructed in the 1850s.

Seal on Godrevy Island taken from the tour boat Little Mermaid.
Seals and Other Wildlife

There are a variety of animals to view in the area. Grey seals are around in the summer, however, the numbers increase in fall, and in winter you may see close to one hundred. The island and area boasts a variety of seabirds including pipits, oystercatchers, gulls, and cormorants. Occasionally a dolphin or basking shark may be viewed.

Seals swimming onto the rock. We were told the darker ones were young ones and the lighter ones were older ones.
Enjoying the sun
Godrevy Island and Lighthouse taken from the Little Mermaid tour boat.
Viewing

There is more than one way you can view the lighthouse. Godrevy Beach is run by the National Trust and they provide parking areas. Another way way you can view it is to board a tour boat from St. Ives. More than one company presently takes people around the island. I took the Little Mermaid from St. Ives and I also viewed the lighthouse from the National Trust property.

Close-up of the lighthouse from the tour boat.
A third way to get to Godrevy? We saw some paddle boarders make their way over to Godrevy. This paddle boarder took his dog. You can see a seal popping his head out of the water on the right. With the rocks around the island I am not sure I would recommend this.
Literary Ties
View of Godrevy Island and Lighthouse from St. Ives

It is said Godrevy Lighthouse was the inspiration for “To the Lighthouse” by Virginia Woolf. Woolf spent many summers in St. Ives. You can see Godrevy Lighthouse from there.

Filming Location

Godrevy appears to have been used as a filming location or backdrop for TV and film. Blue Juice, a 1995 British surfer film staring Catherine Zeta Jones and Ewan McGregor was shot there. It also appears the lighthouse may have been used as a location for the TV show Doc Martin in series 9. Pictures of a boat in the Hayle area with the characters Doc and PC Penhale aboard appeared online in April 2019. My tour guide, a local, said the rumor was Martin Clunes was flown out by helicopter to the lighthouse island to shoot scenes.

The coast of Cornwall is stunning and you really can’t go wrong visiting its many seaside villages and hotspots. By boat or by land this area is worth a stop.

North Buckham Farm

Have you ever wanted to escape to some rural or remote area? Have you wanted to take in the sights and sounds of nature? During part of my stay in England I did just that and it was glorious.

I stayed at North Buckham Farm on the outskirts of Beaminster in Dorset. It is a working sheep farm with over 400 breeding ewes. They currently have two border collies, Scott and Naila. Scott works to move sheep between grazing areas and they are training Naila, still a pup, to do the same. They also have a few horses.

The accommodations were in a shepherd’s hut. This could have slept 2, but I was staying by myself. You have lovely views of the farm from the huts. The huts have electrical outlets, so I was able to work on my computer and charge my devices. You only hear the sounds of wildlife, horses, and occasional sheep from the shepherd’s huts. If you are a city clicker, no worries, most of the animals go silent after dark. Nearby is a building with a water closet, bath, and kitchen.

Shepherd’s Hut
Inside of shepherd’s hut
Inside of a shepherd’s hut looking at the other end.
Breakfast

You have the option of including breakfast during your stay. I decided to do just that and it set me up well for the day. Trish, the host, asks you what you prefer. I had eggs and smoked salmon the first day as well as yogurt with fresh berries. Trish even provided gluten-free bread upon request.

A badger as taken on my camera after dark from the hide.
Wildlife

Also on the property is a glass-fronted animal viewing hide. I arranged with Trish to venture out to the hide one night at eight. I waited quietly and my patience paid off. I saw two badgers one by one slowly peak out of their holes and return several times before they came out and foraged around on the grass in front of me. I also saw a fox run the perimeter waiting for the badgers to finish. I contemplated staying in the hide all night in order to catch the fox on my camera, but ended up heading back to my hut between 11:30 and midnight. If I return, I am determined to catch that fox. While waiting in the hide I believe I may also have heard an owl.

Nearby

There are two walking paths, that one can start not far from the end of North Buckham Farm’s driveway that lead you into Beaminster. This town has two pubs, a Co-Op grocery, and a few other restaurants. There are also other walking paths nearby that lead to other villages farther away.

Do you fancy a simple more rustic stay away from crowds? Do you want to get away from it all, but still have access to civilization? Then consider a stay at North Buckham Farm in Dorset. It may be the location you need to unplug and unwind.

You can look at North Buckham Farm’s website at: http://www.northbuckhamfarm.co.uk

Church Cats

If you have a cat, you know you don’t own the feline, they own you. Your house is not yours, it belongs to your cat. You are just the caretaker. In England some churches are a cat’s domain.

Unlike in the United States or some other places, many British churches are open or unlocked during the day. This is great for tourists who would like to enter and view the architecture or interior. It is also great for people who want to have a quiet moment to reflect. Propped open doors or constant visitors have enabled some local cats or strays to claim the building as their own. They may like to get out of the rain, enjoy the soft seat cushions on the pews, or even sun themselves where light filters in through the stained glass windows onto the floor.

Locals are so used to seeing particular cats lounging about that they know them by name. They may even be afforded the status of official church cat.

We were told by locals in Corsham that this was Cyril. He was owned by a local florist, but he liked to hang out at the church by day. We met him inside the church. He walked us out and walked right back to the florist shop around closing time.

Some church cats belong to a local and just like to hang out at the church. Others are strays that have shown up at a church and the staff end up adopting them and allow them to stay. The cats presence helps curb the mouse population.

Another cat I encountered inside a church in the Cotswolds. This one followed us outside the church as well. He tailed us around the churchyard.

Southwark Cathedral in London even elevated the status of their church cat by honoring her in stone with a grotesque. The named her Doorkins because she would be waiting by the door to be let into the church every morning before they adopted her.

The grotesque made in honor of Southwark Cathedral’s church cat-Doorkins.
Doorkins is older now. She is less social and sleeps a lot. Here she was in the Harvard chapel in the church. She was on a comfortable chair.
Doorkins enjoying a nap.

In her heyday Doorkins was more sociable. She met the queen when she visited Southwark Cathedral. She would join in church services and choir practices angling for a pet or a scratch behind the ear. Even though she is on in years and is less active, she still enjoyed a little attention.

They sell this book at the Southwark Cathedral store relating Doorkin’s story.
This is Jones of St. Paul’s in Covent Garden in London. Jones is getting on in years as well. He is named after Inigo Jones who designed the church. His sibling, who passed on was Inigo and he was named Jones.

I have been lucky enough to meet some of these cats. The ones I met were people friendly and enjoyed attention. In a country that obviously favors dogs, church cats in England can be considered an icon.

Eagles: We Just Want to Play

Do eagles play? Do they try to have fun? I went down early to the Hudson River in New York to watch the young eagles this morning and it appears they do play and enjoy hanging out together.

When I first arrived, the two babies born this spring were on the playground. I think they wanted to enjoy the swings and other equipment to perch on before the children arrived. Maybe they were wondering what all the hype was about in regards to the equipment.

This one perched for a while on a wooden guard rail on the edge of a road. People walking a dog were startled to see it there. The young eagle was not phased by the large dog. He never moved.

Besides flying around they landed on different trees again. In addition, they many times joined each other in their perching spots. They also spent time chasing each other in the air. Unfortunately the lighting on the shots where they are chasing each other around was not very good, so I am leaving them out.

Them seem to join each other a lot. It looks like they are having a conversation.
Team effort- calling out for their parents to bring food most likely. This tree is closer to the river.

I would conclude they do like to play. What do you think? Regardless, I am enjoying the new spots they choose to perch on near the Hudson River.