Monday, September 9, 2013

Our visit to the Fresno Chaffee Zoo with Mek & Paca

Over the summer Dylan and I set out on an adventure - a Zoo Road Trip to be exact - and our first stop was the Fresno Chaffee Zoo. This is actually what started the whole idea of taking a road trip because we just had to see Mek after learning that she had left the San Diego Zoo. Mek is part of the Species Survival Plan (SSP) and was transferred up to the Fresno Chaffee Zoo so she could be reunited with Paca in hopes of breeding and producing some more adorable tiger cubs.

We spent months planning and even had several communications with the Fresno Zoo through email and social media. We were on a mission to see Mek and nothing was going to stand in our way, not even the major heat wave that hit California the day we left. Yes, major heat wave, as in 106 degrees when we arrived in Fresno on July 1st.

Not knowing exactly what to expect, we were anxious to see this new zoo. Compared to the San Diego Zoo (100 acres), the Fresno Zoo was small (18 acres), but something we wanted to experience. Nestled away in a park, the Fresno Chaffee Zoo is a place we plan on going back to again. The landscaping was beautiful and the staff was wonderful. Everyone we met was so friendly and went out of their way to help us see Mek. Some couldn't believe that we drove all the way from Orange County just to see a tiger. Obviously they don't know Dylan and his love for tigers.  

We entered the zoo and headed right for the tiger exhibit. The anticipation and excitement was almost too much to contain. We were finally going to see Mek ...

... but wait, the tiger in the exhibit wasn't Mek, it was Paca. Where was Mek? We had come all this way to see her. After hearing our story, a friendly maintenance worker radioed one of the keepers and she was there within minutes.

Her name was Katrina. She told us that Mek was in the bedrooms because they thought that she might be pregnant and had to monitor her. Our smiles quickly turned to frowns. That is until Katrina asked for my cell phone number. About 10 minutes later my phone rang and Katrina quickly became our new best friend. She had arranged to take us behind the exhibit and see Mek in the tiger bedrooms.

I wasn't allowed to take pictures where Mek was, but the important thing is that we saw her. We were just a few feet from her and she was so beautiful. Just like we remembered her to be. While Katina fed Mek meatballs and told us how she was doing, Dylan and I got to sit there and just take in her beauty - the beauty that is Mek the tigress.

It was such an amazing experience. I have never been so close to a tiger. I just held my breath and felt tears welling up in my eyes. Her paws, her chuff, her eyes, everything about her is majestic. I like to think that Mek remembered us from her home in San Diego.

After seeing Mek, we thanked Katrina and went to explore more of the Fresno Chaffee Zoo. Of course we spent time visiting with the handsome Paca too.

One of the things that I really enjoyed about this zoo was the hands on tools and interactive areas where guests could learn more about the animals. The Fresno Chaffee Zoo may be small compared to some other zoos, but one thing is for sure - they care about conservation, education and creating awareness.

Thank you for letting us be a part of the Fresno Chaffee Zoo Family for the day. Together, we can help save species with a hope and a dream.

Stay tuned for part 2 of our Fresno Chaffee Zoo visit! 

1 comment:

  1. Really nice post, Michelle. So glad you and Dylan shared this amazing experience together, and then with the rest of us.