Wild Things- Animal Education
I’ve been intrigued by animals my entire life. In the fourth grade, I did a school-wide presentation on tarantulas and scorpions. Later in high school, I joined the FFA- Future Farmers of America through my elective Vet Science class. Our final exam required us to memorize hundreds of breeds of dogs and horses. To this day I point out breeds of passing dogs. Giana inherited my love for animals conversely Misha is cautious of wild and unpredictable things. Therefore, we had to ambush her with a private airboat tour into the Florida Swamp.
If you live in the Madison, WI area you may remember when a man suffering from mental illness climbed into the bear enclosure. Ultimately, they had to shoot the Polar Bear when he dragged the man. A couple of years later Henry Vilas Zoo got two new bear cubs. My favorite teacher Ms. Giesfield was a volunteer at the zoo at the time and got me a behind the scenes pass. These early impressions and close encounters with majestic beast stuck with me. Anytime we are traveling and there is an opportunity to learn about wildlife, I’m doing it.
As an adult, I’ve learned more about the reality of conditions for animals kept in captivity, and it’s distressing. It taints the fond memories I had of going to the Circus, Pet Store, and State Fairs. I’ve wrestled with the best ways for my kids to be enthralled with animal education like I was. On this trip, we got to learn about Alligators in their natural habitat. It was a croc of fun. Sorry, not sorry!
Spirit of the Swamp Private Airboat Tour
We booked a private airboat tour with the Spirit of the Swamp. This was a family friendly boat tour. Not knowing how Misha would react to this expedition, we left out the alligator details. On the second day of spring break, we drove 30 minutes from our hotel in Orlando to the pick-up spot in Kissimmee Florida.
Swamp Tour Florida Everglades
Our ginger Captain’s name was Chris. He did a great job of pointing out all the species hidden in the tall grass. The airboat easily glided across the shallow waters. Patches of unchartered land create these swampy islands where animals hide in plain sight. The landscape is lush, green but at the same time serene. Chris said, “I’m out here every day and these are creatures of habit.” He knew just where to steer us.
We cruised down the canal and into the swamp. The airboat propelled us across Lake Tohopekaliga and the fan raves up to a loud volume. Our tour included headsets, so we could talk to each other, call out our sightings, as well as hear information about the area and swamp animals. The 90-minute tour was $65 for adults and $60 for kids under 10 and 100% Laufty approved!
Beautiful Swamp Thing
I am not sure what I expected, but I wasn’t prepared for the beauty of the swamp. An intersection of birds and aquatic life, endless views of green and Cypress Trees growing out of water. It’s enchanting to see magnificent animals exactly where they are supposed to be. We encountered Alligators in a variety of sizes. They are quite docile, hiding between the blades exposing only their eyes, nostrils and upper lip. Let’s continue to find respectful ways to marvel at nature without entrapping and captivating this wildlife. Looking for more to do in Florida, read on.