Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Grant's Farm

Zoo animals are ambassadors for their cousins in the wild. ~ Jack Hannah

It was a day just like today, miserably hot and humid, temperature soaring to 100. I took my grandson Austin, then ten years old, on an outing to Grant's Farm, the 281 acre ancestral home of the Busch Family (Anheuser-Busch beer) where they once lived in the 'castle'. Gussie Busch travelled 20 miles on rutted dirt roads from the brewery to Grant's Farm, his palatial country estate, which was named after Ulysses S. Grant, who founded and farmed part of the land. The Busch family had a love of animals and turned part of the estate into a mini zoo, which has always been free and open to the public. Parking now costs, but it is possible to park elsewhere and hike a nearby flat trail to the entrance. We are so blessed to have this always- packed tourist attraction five minutes from our house.

Visitors ride a tram around the lakes and grounds where they encounter free-roaming zebras, deer, bison. There are over 100 species of animals housed there. The mini zoo has baby goats that children can feed with baby bottles and ice cream cones filled with pellets. There are giant tortoises, monkeys, baby bears and many other critters. There are also elephant and bird shows. It is a delightful place.

On that sweltering day that I took Austin, I had just stopped to purchase a large soda for him. He took one sip, saw the camels at the fence and walked over for a close encounter. Two seconds later, a camel snatched Austin's drink, threw its
head back and chugged every last drop of Mountain Dew, then dropped the paper cup on the ground at Austin's feet. It happened so quickly, and the astonished look on my grandson's face made me laugh out loud, and then he laughed, and we ended up laughing all day about that crazy camel.

When my daughter, Austin's mom was five, she had an up close encounter with a llama. She walked too close to the fence and the llama reached over the fence and took a plug of her hay-colored hair.

Did you ever feed peanuts to an elephant, leaves to a giraffe? Any personal interaction with a zoo animal?

17 comments:

Susan said...

That was funny, Linda. I could just see your grandson's face when that camel drank up his soda. I loved our trip to the zoo (today's post on my blog, as you know). Seeing two goats butt each other in the head was amazing. Loved the free roaming peacocks, too. This world is filled with wonders! Susan

Bookie said...

I have only been to the B gardens once, long ago when I was pregnant with last baby. Friends and us took the toddlers there and had experiences similar to yours...yes, funny and fun.

I remember when I was in first grade...LONG AGO...my family took their first vacation from Kansas to St. Louis zoo. I loved the gorilla and remember HIS watching ME.Parents had to drag me away and I have been facinates with gorillas ever since...

Wow, it is hot here today! :)

Lisa Ricard Claro said...

There used to be a place a couple hours south of us where you drove your own vehicle through and the animals roamed free and would come right up to the car to be fed. (Food pellets purchased at the facility's main building). A camel stuck his head in our car window! He didn't bite or do anything, he just wouldn't let us continue the drive. He wanted his nose rubbed. The place is probably closed down now. We remarked at the time that the animals were way too friendly, and not everyone would be as nice and patient with them as we were. Can't imagine the liability, either!

Linda O'Connell said...

Susan, It WAS funny.

Linda O'Connell said...

Claudia,
You are talking about Phil the Gorila who has been dead for sometime now. They taxidermied him and we locals all can still see him and discuss our fond memories of Phil. He was a character, who used to fling 'stuff'.

Linda O'Connell said...

Lisa,
Are you talking about the place in Springfield? We took our kids there thirty-five years ago and have some great pictures. I remember the spider monkeys being very agressive. Yes, imagine the liability!

K9friend said...

I just love to look at them. It's too ingrained in me NOT to touch or feed the animals!

Pat
www.critteralley.blogspot.com

Lynn said...

I remember taking Norm's grandson about 2 or 3 to the children's zoo where they could pet the goats. One knocked him over and we picked him up. He was a little teary and then said, "That goat was pissed off." We laughed so hard hearing that come out of his mouth.

Linda O'Connell said...

Lynn,
I am laughing out loud. Kids do say the darndest things.

Tammy said...

I laughed so hard reading that!! I can just imagine the two of you laughing the rest of the day. And thanks for the history lesson. It was a wonderful place to take the kids when they were little, but I never understood the relationship between the Busch family and U.S. Grant.

irishoma said...

How funny!
In late June I took the grandkiddos to Grant's Farm and both had close encounters while feeding the goats.
Donna

Linda O'Connell said...

Tammy,
It really is amazing what history we have right here in our own town. (the English language! look at those last two words and then pronounce them.)

Linda O'Connell said...

Hi Donna,
I think everybody who has ever fed those goats has a story to tell. One of them chewed my shorts once.

BECKY said...

Those goats at Grant's Farm AND the zoo are possessed little aliens and should not be allowed around little children....or old ladies with umbrellas!

Linda O'Connell said...

Hi Becky,
They are aggressive little critters!

Janet said...

The STL zoo is a true treasure. In fact I feel Forest Park is the jewel of the city rather than the arch. It has everything a human could need.

The story with your grandson sounds like something out of a short story you wrote. Fresh and funny...something you'll both remember for a long time.

Linda O'Connell said...

Hi Janet,
Thanks for stopping by. Do you have a blog I can check out? I agree, Forest Park has so much more to offer than the Arch.