Sunday, May 22, 2011

Field Trip (Deer Park & Elephant Sanctuary)

On Thursday May 19, 2011 we went on a field trip to the Deer Park and also Kuala Gandah Elephant Sanctuary both located in Lanchang, Malaysia. We left school early in our school bus for the middle school and a rented large bus for the high school. I did not wear my watch so I don't remember the exact time we got to the Deer Park but with a break on the way it took us between 2.5- 3 hours. We went on the highway in the direction of Kuala Lumpur. I rode on the middle school bus and enjoyed talking with the girls. Our first stop was the Deer Park. I did not realize until we got there that the other bus had a tour guide with them. He gave us directions when we got off the bus and before we entered the park. We walked through a interesting garden that had a variety of plants on display and walked down the where the deer are located. The man in charge showed us how we could feed the deer. A person is supposed to hold the food out to the side of their body so when the deer rise up on their back legs the deer does not paw the person in the stomach. It was also advised not to scream or make any loud noises to frighten the deer. After that all those would want to could enter the area and feed the deer. I chose to remain on the outside of the fence and take pictures of everyone feeding the deer. I have seen deer before since I am from Wyoming. Although, this was a different type of deer. It was the Javan Rusa deer. Later we also saw Sika deer and Sambar deer, but were not allowed to feed those. There were also a plethora of birds throughout the area: golden pheasant, crested fireback pheasant, sun conure, and others that I have forgotten the names of.   One student did get pawed in the stomach because he did not hold the food out to the side of his body. There were several students I warned as they were feeding the deer because they were doing the same thing. We have one autistic student and she was squealing in excitement and we had to warn her not to do that. After we fed the deer we walked on a path through more types of birds, a ferret, a guinea pig, rabbits, a mouse deer, and many others down to where they had a python. Students got to hold the python and have their picture taken with it if they wanted. One student who went before me kept bugging to take her turn and then once she got the snake she freaked out and closed her eyes while shaking and saying getting it off of me. I wanted the snake wrapped around my neck for my picture but the guy just placed it on my arms. After that we went up to a large covered area and had lunch. Following that we saw the Malayan sun bear and student could feed the bear if they wanted. Then we had about half and hour to continue to wander through the park before it was time to head back to the buses and continue on to the Elephant sanctuary.
Our next stop was the Kuala Gandah Elephant sanctuary that was maybe a 20 minute drive from the deer park. When we got there we went into this large room that had signs with different educational explanation about elephants and a large elephant skull in the middle of the room. We the next showing started then we went into the film room and watch a 40 minute film on the displaced elephants of Malaysia. These elephants are being moved for their protection from people taking over their land and them causing the people problems. They showed how this team of men moved the elephants, how it is a dangerous process, and how they don't have enough money to track the elephants or do follow up on them. Many of the elephants are separated in this process because they can only move a few elephants at a time. It is also very stressful on the elephants and many of them die when they get to the Taman Negara rainforest. We then made a presentation of the donation that we were giving to the sanctuary. After that we went down to where the elephants are located. We watched them being bathed in the river. We were supposed to be able to participate in that but the water was up almost to the bank and they did not want people to get hurt when the elephants fall on their sides (when the water is high). When the water is low the elephants do not try to completely submerge themselves and so it is safer.

Then they were taken back to the stage area where people could feed them peanuts and they preformed some tricks. Two of the elephants and the same names as two of our students. After that people could feed them fruit. Once they had been fed they were led over to a place where people could get on them and take a ride. I took pictures of all our students riding the elephants. I wanted to ride but by the time I got done the students were leaving and they were putting the elephants away. It was a two minute ride around a circle, so it wasn't a huge loss. We all felt if would have been more fun to ride and then take a bath with them in the river. We were all prepared with extra clothes. After that those who rode the elephants showered and changed into clean clothes. While they were doing that I got an ice cream and bought a few souvenirs to send back to friends in the States. Then we got back on the buses and headed out. It seemed to take much longer on the way home then there. Most were tired and several of the students on the middle school bus slept. I was being goofy and was seat dancing to music. The students thought it was pretty funny. When we were entering the outskirts of town and were stopped at this light these people a few cars over were watching me. My students mentioned it so I turned and waved at the people and then waved back. When we got back to school the Director of Studies who had been at the back of the bus asked me if I knew those people and I said nope. Overall, it was a great day.

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