- Published on Thursday, 14 February 2013 22:16
An intimate look at Africa
Colleen Baird, curator with the Calgary Zoo, says there really are no words that can do justice to the incredible experience of watching a herd of 75 elephants make their daily trek down a mountain and toward a lake for their evening bath and wallow in Kenya’s Samburu National Park.
“Seeing four-week-old baby elephants, the matriarchs and all the elephants in between move together as a herd is simply amazing. I have a passion for elephants and it fills me with warmth to see them thriving. It was one of my most memorable moments in Africa.”
It’s also one of the reasons Colleen is excited to return to Africa this September, leading her second Zoofari to Tanzania and Kenya. Starting off in Tanzania, Colleen and her group will explore the Mara in Tanzania – an opportunity to see an incredible variety of wildlife. “It’s one of the highlights for a lot of people who travel to Africa because they get to see all of the big animals at once. I enjoy the Mara too, but Samburu Park in Kenya will definitely be the highlight for me.”
That’s because Colleen prefers the close-up, personal encounters Samburu has to offer. “I love the semi-arid environment. Its gorgeous and very hot, which I enjoy, but the best part is that you get a more intimate view of the animals in their natural habitat. It feels secluded and you get a peek into private moments – two elephants sparring or giraffes interacting. The pace just feels different.”
Colleen, like several zookeepers and educators at the Calgary Zoo, spends some of her vacation time every year leading trips to see animals in the wild. “If I’m honest, at first I wasn’t sure I would enjoy it, but I discovered that leading a group of people passionate about nature was so fulfilling. Sharing the things I really love about animals and helping my group truly understand what the animals need to survive, why they are important and how it all connects back to what we do at the Calgary Zoo is so rewarding.”
Colleen says she loves sharing her “little secrets” about the animals. “They’re not really secrets, but understanding the cool little tidbits about an animal and taking a look into their amazing lives really makes you fall in love with them.”
Colleen is excited to share some amazing experiences with her "Zoofari" group in the fall. To learn more about how you can join her, call Civilized Adventures at 403 205 4120.
Michelle Woodard, Calgary Zoo