Sidetracked by Disney.

No animals here again….sorry.

Disney is very good at duplication…or at least attempting to replicate a feeling. Say you are in Florida and are really wanting to make it out to Yellowstone. But you find your funds aren’t going to make it past Branson, MO let alone allow you to stay in the famed Old Faithful Inn. So, what is your next best option????


Of course! Where else can you ride coasters, take safaries, and ‘experience’ other cultures [translated through Disney’s eyes, of course]? You will find THE one and ONLY Wilderness Lodge at Disney World, whose interior is modeled quite closely after the Inn at Yellowstone. But not only do you get the feeling that you are in Yellowstone [well, the Inn, at least], but you also get a ranger! That’s right, a ranger! Not a United States National Park Service Ranger, but the next best thing–a Disney World ranger!

To me, this seems a little odd.  But that is Disney for you….or at least, for me.  But if there is one thing Disney is good at, aside from duplication, marketing, and the like, it is customer service.  I find it frustrating sometimes that such good people are missed or can’t get into the Park Service.  Even if they aren’t working for the ‘best part of the government’ at least they serve as wonderful examples. 

Take Disney World Ranger Stan.  You can read all about him here.  He displays all of the qualities that a ranger in the Park Service should, even though his Lodge isn’t in the middle of the grand wilderness.  For one, he knows his resource–something very important for park rangers, considering the fact that they talk A LOT and if they are talking that much, but don’t know what they are talking about, then why would they be talking [It happens, believe me…]??  Stan, by the sounds of it, knows his resource AND the one off which it is based!  That’s pretty good.

Another good quality that Stan possesses is he “loves people, and it shows.”  There is an odd phenomenon in the Park Service, and it’s usually covered up pretty well, but sometimes…well, it rears it’s ugly head.  If you’ve ever had to work with people day in and out, you sometimes get fatigued, and sometimes….that fatigue never goes away.  Stan is a wonderful refresher on the way it should be!  For 20 years he has been at it!  That makes the end-of-season burn-out seem like a hiccup!

Another positive that Ranger Stan manages is his ability to ‘make you feel like you are part of his family.’  How often do you go to a National Park and get that feeling??  Often, rangers are pitted between the resource and the visitor.  It makes for some uncomfortable situations sometimes.  For instance, when you find a child crawling through a prairie dog town that might have the plague and the parents have obviously ignored the warning posted at the roadside, but they are finding such enjoyment from watching their child, how do you tactifully disrupt that potential vacation-making memory?  Ranger Stan probably has the answer!

It appears that Ranger Stan is very willing to do his job, roaming around the lobby and grounds of the Lodge.  Would you believe that it can sometimes be difficult to get Park Rangers out on trails????  Roving, or walking around looking for visitors to talk to, is one of the best ways to spread resource information, but is often negelected for the air conditioned comfort of the ’employees only’ area or government vehicle. 

Even though it could be argued that Ranger Stan isn’t really a true ranger, just a duplicate, he definately has the heart of one!  So if nothing else, I can racket Disney up for showing me how to do my job better.  Thanks Disney, and thanks Ranger Stan!


Cheney Lake and Tanganyika Wildlife Park


Alright….the ‘animals of the Badlands’ post is still in the works. I have two weeks and a few days left until I go up there, so it will get done.

Cheney Lake State Park

We went to Cheney Lake for the millionth time, I guess out of boredom. We ventured to the east side instead of the west side and it is pretty much the same. Lots and lots of campsites, some of which are almost in the water.

I’ve not really figured out how to pronounce this place. I say it like the former vice president’s name, but I’ve heard other pronounciations around here.

There were signs that they were practicing land management there. There were a few burned areas, but most of the wood duck boxes are still sitting crookedly in water. We also noticed a rather omnious ‘guest’ living in the lake.

I’m sure these zebra muscles are giving them quite a headache.  It’s not a good thing to have these things in your water.  I’m holding a small pebble, which is a pretty good demostration that these guys like to repopulate and crowd areas in vast numbers. 

Aside from the non-native inhabitants, we did see some native signs of spring.  There were turtles sunning themselves, peepers peeping, and there was a muskrat that honored us with his cleaning routine before he swam away [my camera is not quiet]. 


Tanganyika Wildlife Park

On to other non-native wildlife species, we went east of Wichita again to TWP…Tanganyika is a region or area in Africa in between the Indian Ocean and those large lakes over there.  But that doesn’t make it any easier to say. 

TWP is an interesting place, rather new, and still under construction.  There are a good number of animals on display, with more coming as exhibits are constructed, and there are a good number of babies being born.   This ‘wildlife park’ used to fully be a rehabilitation center, not open to the public.  You still get that feeling when you go in.   We were there before ‘school let out’ so there wasn’t a multitude of staff floating around, and our soft pretzel wasn’t so soft, but it was a very amazing visit. 

You walk out of the gift shop and you have an elaborate waterfall on your left, giraffes right in front of you, and gibbons to your far left.  There isn’t really a map, but they give you a feeding schedule.  When they say feeding, it will be you that does the feeding in most cases.  We first stopped at the lorikeets.

We were the only two people in the area at the time.  These colorful birds aren’t shy, so when you walk in with the little cup of nectar, you will be a living bird perch until all the goodies are gone.  If you still stand there, you will invite curious birds who like to chew on various parts of your body and redo your hairdo.  The above picture was taken when we were out of nectar.  I don’t think I could have reached my camera with so many birds sitting on me.  I had a couple on my head [sunglasses make good perches] and a good handfull on arms and shoulders.  There is no signage that mentions they can chew small fingers off, but lucky for me, I only had a little skin taken off while trying to keep two from fighting over the food. 

From there we went to look at the rhino and the colobus monkeys before the next feeding. 

This little guy was entertaining to watch, as were his older cagemates.  They danced and played and chewed on the grass.  From there, we went into the kangaroo pen for a scheduled feeding, but we were the last of a large mob, and there was no feeding going on, so we briskly walked through and went on to gawk at the gibbons.  They were making a bit of noise, howling and the like, so we watched their antics that culumulated into a dangling-by-one-arm wrestling match.  Despite the look in the picture, he wasn’t really that lazy and only sat for approximately three seconds before bouncing along. 

From there, we went to feed the lemurs, and although we were the last bunch let in, they still had some room for our treats and were a little eager even. 

Aside from their googly eyes and springy movements, they are actually very dainty creatures with small teeth and no nails.   They were a little shy and only approach if you bend down to an approved level or sit on a rock that they can get on, too.  You have to carefully guard your stash of treats since they won’t take just one.  The best way to feed them is to give them one at a time and not let their little hands get ahold of your other hand.  The amazing part is watching them jump around and climb like gravity has no effect on them, yet they are light touchers with very soft hands and fur. 

If that doesn’t pluck on your heart strings, walk past the ‘nursery area’, adjacent to the snack bar, and you will find a little lemur whose mother didn’t feel like taking care of him.  Sitting in his incubator with a large stuffed monkey, this little guy, Elmer, seems to be more interested in the people that walk by.  He seems like he wants a hug more than anything.

Cute, eh?  Very interesting park that looks like it has a very promising future and promises many futures for exotic wildlife.