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After much agonizing, I finally made the decision to drive Sam to Kolmården and back for that open day day myself. And even though it was the longest I have driven in one day (round 300km) it all went without any glitz at all. I even managed to avoid speed controls that the cops had both on the way there and home, due to some unexplainable caution vibes 🙂

We left home in such good time, that we arrived with one hour to spare, so we went to the “Vildmarkshotellet” (Wilderness hotel) and had some very expensive lunch. Went back to the research and education centre and was the first ones there, so we got to introduce Sam like one on one. All in all 7 youngsters and some parents got to listen first some about the school and then – the Zoo head honcho talking about the park, working there, research projects and one or two juice gossip tidbits LOL.

Then – the piece de resistance – visiting some of the animals! First we went to Colloseum which houses the rhinos, elephants and surikats. when they are not out in the park WOW, what an experience – we even got to go behind the scenes, meeting the animal keepers and – petting a rhino!! Now how cools is that?? Anyone done that? Do you have any idea of how BIG they are??

And even though they are very dangerous, they still like to be petted ;-o I never managed to get a picture, but Sam was very close to it’s head and got to stroke the horns and round the face. Coolest ever.

Next the elephants, but these are “untouchable”  due to an horrible outbreak of tuberculoses years ago when the park lost many of their elephants. If you think that their indoor environment look bleak and boring, the handler told me that he takes them out at least 4-5 times a day and come up with new things to keep their intelligent minds in shape.

Out in the cold for a brief walk to the Tiger World and got to see three Siberian tigers very close up and I promise – the oldest male is huge!!

And OMG – you should hear him roar 😮 I can’t help but feel so torn between his beauty,n cuddlability, gorgeous eyes and the fact that he is a true predator. The trainer told us that they have started the tigers on a clicker program. WTF you might think, but the reason was not to domesticate them, but to be abel to handle them when need arise that not call for a tranquilizer dart. So one of them had already learned to lay on the side and raise his (hers?) paw in the air. She fed them snacks through the fence, not with her front towards them, but her back = safety precautions.

Her we broke of and walked back to our car (I wanted to get as close to home before darkness fell around 5.00pm), passing the snow leopard once again

If you click on the photo, you will see this wonderful animal a bit better.

All these close encounters with this fantastic wild animals moved me to the core of my heart and the whole experience made me exhilarated to no means. Sam said “mom, this is what I have always wanted to do, although I didn’t know it. Wise guy that son of mine.  Today with the help of his SYO consultant, he applied for the program, hoping that he will be accepted and – that he has to study even harder to get even higher grades, to ensure that this dream of his comes true.