Animal Kingdom

One of the nice things about Sarasota is that it’s a two hour drive from Orlando. I am a huge Disney fan so when we decide we want to go for a day, we can. This week we decided we wanted to go to Animal Kingdom so we got up Saturday morning, headed up and spent a really nice day out.

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I am not a huge zoo fan and always feel bad about the animals in captivity. AK has some of the same issues, but from what I remember when researching, a good number of the animals in AK were injured and not able to survive in the wild. I’m sure it’s not all of them, but if the idea is to get people to see what diversity of life is out there and start taking steps to safeguard it, than I’ll be ok with the animals being there. Not being a wildlife expert, I can’t comment on living conditions or how much area each need, but from a lay person perspective, they always look well cared for and with enough room to roam.

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So yes, I am aware of the controversy surrounding this park, but I still love going there. I stopped this time and focused on some of the smaller, less appreciated animals there. The bats, the birds I can’t identify (they are all fowl to me)

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IMG_2703.JPG and the meerkats. I could watch the meerkats all day. They are adorably cute and remind me a lot of the kitties at home – especially when Gracie wants to come inside and the door is closed. She does the same stand on back legs and stretch that the meerkats do.

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I also have a particular draw to the Affection Station (aka the petting zoo area) of the Conservation Station. Now, inside the conservation station are some less pet-able animals like the tree lizard

IMG_2716.JPG Yes, I know it has a different name, but I can’t remember it. This little guy reminded me of the lizards Gracie and Leia like to bring home … only way larger. But it is the petting friendly animals I really go to see.

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The cow and pigs were cute, but there was a particular goat that I really liked. He was super affectionate and just wanted attention. I wanted to bring him home, but Bob wasn’t sure we could get him to the car.

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After Animal Kingdom we checked another restaurant off our list. We had dinner at Jiko, the Cooking Place.

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Jiko is inside Animal Kingdom Lodge and has African and Mediterranean inspired dishes. When we looked at the menu, we didn’t see a lot of that influence, but once you taste the food, it is all right there. We also tried a South African wine – a Pinotage. Having never heard if this varietal we asked the waiter for information and suggestions.

IMG_2719.JPG We ended up with a dry, fruity, medium to full bodied wine that was different than anything I’ve had before and paired incredibly well with dinner. We started with the Taste of Africa – a selection of breads and dips that ran from classic hummus to a spicy chili and tamarind dip.

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For dinner itself Bob went classic with short ribs

IMG_2723.JPG and I went vegetarian with the Sambusas. These are similar to Indian Samosas, but the flavor profile is entirely different. Excellent, but different.

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All in all, it was a fantastic day. We have another a Disney day planned next month – food and wine fest and all – and I’m sure we will get out there again. After all, it’s Disney.

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