My wife and I took a 16 day trip to South Africa and Zimbabwe last year and we had daily Safari drives while in South Africa (Zimbabwe was the Victoria Falls trip). We came up close and personal with many wild animals, usually within 10 feet of lionesses and their cubs feeding on a fresh kill, elephants grazing, leopards lounging on a tree branch or Rhinos looking to charge the jeep (of course I made the joke about how to keep a Rhino from charging....you take away his credit card).
Yesterday, we went to the San Diego Wild Animal Park, renamed as Safari Park, which I hadn't been to since our kids were young (perhaps more than 15 years ago). I always enjoyed going there or the San Diego Zoo or Sea World because of the interaction, as it were, that one has with the animals. however, our trip with our grandson was a bit different, the feeling of being close to these untamed beasts was not the same for me. Perhaps it was the knowledge that they are in enclosed spaces with nearly 0% possibility of getting out, as compared to our trip to Africa where there was nearly 0% of survival had these animals gotten spooked by something as we were parked just feet from where they were with no protection at all except our guide carried a rifle and a sidearm, but our jeep was open with just a rollover cage for "safety".
To give the reader an idea of the differences, I offer two pictures. The first is of our adventure in Africa, the second of our adventure in San Diego.
There is a certain adrenaline rush to being so close to danger, not that one should seek out danger without precautions, that would be foolish, but you get a sense of your place in the world when you understand the raw power of these animals and their instinct to defend themselves and theirs. I just don't get that same feeling when I go to a zoo. I hope that one day, our Grandson can experience the beauty and the power of animals in the wild. Until then, I guess it is trips to the Safari Park and the Zoo and let him imagine and dream.