Wild Animal Safari Park, Strafford, Mo. White Bengal tigers crave frozen bloodsicles in a drought like this.
The recipe at this exotic-animal attraction in Ozark country: Pour blood drippings from 28 crates of surplus meat (supplied weekly by three area Walmarts) into plastic 10-inch round mixing bowls. Set a cow rib or turkey leg in bottom of each bowl. Freeze. Throw into tiger cage.
Gets this hot and dry, we just bring out the bloodcicles, the cats love em, said park general manager Jeremy Hinkle, unlocking the premises early today to accommodate your drought chasers.
Tori the 18-month grizzly has just awoken. She paws over to the edge of her circular cage toward Hinkle as he unwinds the watering hose.
When the spraying begins, Tori raises her snout inches from the nozzle, lapping it up in relief. She stands and performs a brief dance as the tummy gets drenched. She falls backward and raises her legs feet, please.
The two baboons drink from a touch-sensitive pipe poking into their cage from an underground watering system maintained by the privately owned zoo. For the penned animals, a long hose dragged off its hook twice a day provides a cool spray and water for the troughs and bowls.
The kangaroo doesnt really care for being sprayed, says Hinkle.
But other animals will square off in their own water wars.
A few days back, two tigers fought over a 3-inch plastic pipe hidden beneath a 400-pound rock. The pipe connects to a pump that supplies water to their basin, and the animals just shoved the rock aside. Pipe disconnected, they played a little tug of war with it before repairs were made and water to the basin was restored, Hinkle says.
By and large, however, the arid conditions lead to less activity and lower appetites among the critters here.
The 250-acre park was developed 42 years ago by the father of Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones. It boasts deeply dug wells that keep the ponds from ever running dry, though water levels have dropped three feet this summer.
The lion sleeps 22 hours a day in this weather. The spider monkeys dont squawk as often as usual.
Sheldon, the giraffe, strolls his pen seemingly content, turning his head from a cup of water offered by a stranger.
Says Hinkle: Anyone from South America or Africa is equipped to deal with this weather.
| Rick Montgomery, email@example.com