Thursday, February 4, 2016

Homosassa Hippopotamus (and More)

Last year in late October, The Colonel and I took a little trip to Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park. I had never been there, but The Colonel had been when he was a youngster. He remembered the distinctive sign that welcomed us to the park.

When I was checking out the place on-line, I saw some mention about an "Underwater Fishbowl". A must-see while at Homosassa Springs. Here is the sign that told us all about it.

I just had to experience that. It was one of the first things we did at the park. The Fish Bowl was on the underside of an observation platform/deck.

As The Colonel and I made our way along the walkway we spied a manatee nearby and a school of fish swimming by.

We took the steps down to the Fish Bowl's observation windows and saw the same manatee from a different angle.

I was glad to have experienced the Fish Bowl, even if the aged and algae-slimed windows made the underwater mammal and fish a bit fuzzy at times.

We climbed back up the stairs and walked away from the Fish Bowl. The spring water was clear and beautiful. I think the manatee was following us.

The wildlife park is home to many animals. We saw Roseate Spoonbills, a Green Heron, Alligators and a host of other animals.

But of all the animals I enjoyed seeing, Lucifer, or Lu, the Hippopotamus was my favorite.

When The Colonel and I first saw Lu he was swimming around in his pool. He was very graceful as he swam around.
Lu, an African Hippopotamus, was born on January 26, 1960 at the San Diego Zoo. He weighed 90 pounds at birth and now weighs 6,000 pounds. He eats a daily diet of 15 pounds of alfalfa hay, 4 scoops of herbivore diet (does Purina make Hippo Chow) and a 5-gallon bucket of vegetables and fruit.
Lu has lived at Homosassa Springs since 1964. He was one of Ivan Tors' animal actors. Lu was in the Daktari movie and television series of the 1960s as well as the movie, Cowboys in Africa .
Some of the other Ivan Tors animal actors were: Clarence the Cross-eyed Lion on Daktari, the dolphins on Flipper and the black bear on Gentle Ben. I used to love watching all three of these television shows when I was young.

I especially liked Flipper. One year for Christmas I asked for a Flipper Punch-Me. A Punch-Me was an inflated, vinyl character with a weighted bottom. When punched, it would bounce back but not hit back.
I loved my Flipper Punch-Me! I never wanted to punch it and definitely did not want any of my siblings to either. I would take Flipper to bed with me at night and try to tuck him in next to me (we were roughly the same size) but because of his weighted bottom, Flipper would pop right back up and take the blankets with him.
I did not have my beloved Flipper Punch-Me for very long, one of my little brothers punched a hole in him. I was devastated! My mother tried to find a replacement Flipper but never could. She found a clown Punch-Me that I never liked or played with...she did not understand that it was not the punching aspect of the toy I missed or wanted. It was Flipper, my beloved Flipper I wanted back :( 
Back to Lu...Lu eventually came out of the water (a feat we did not witness because we had gone to have lunch at the diner in the park...the hamburgers were DELICIOUS!!!) and was napping in the warm sunshine.

The Colonel and I were mindful of the "splash zone" signs that were posted near Lu's enclosure. Apparently hippos have a tendency to broadcast their feces with their tail-sweeps.
 Thank goodness Lu was napping. He eventually opened his eyes for us...but his tail never moved.
The Colonel and I had enjoyed our time at Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park and it was now time to take our leave. We waited for the same pontoon boat that brought us along the Homosassa River to the park (visitors can take a boat ride or tram ride to and from the parking area to the park). 
The boat ride back was again leisurely and pretty. We saw turtles along the way.

I enjoy taking these mini vacations with The Colonel. I would definitely go back to the Homosassa Springs area. I liked seeing an animal star that I used to watch on television when I was young...made me feel like a kid again...almost.

1 comment:

  1. We also enjoyed Skippy the kangaroo and you especially liked Ron Eli from Tarzan