Even the King Dreams

The “King of the Jungle” looks quite vulnerable here. His eyes are closed as he shields them from the bright sunlight, and he seems quite content to just soak up the rays with apparently little worries about what may be around him.

Well, this is the story I would tell if I captured this image on safari, but it was taken in Southwick Zoo in Mendon, Massachusetts. It’s a wonderful place that showcases a wide variety of animals we all love – lions, tigers, rhinoceros, monkeys, kangaroos and many more.

Once a dairy and vegetable farm in the early 1900s, today its 200 acres are home to over 850 exotic animals from around the world. The zoo is nestled among shady trees and well-worn paths that meander throughout the park making for a very comfortable stroll. There is also a ski-lift ride that takes you over many exhibits for a bird’s eye view of the park’s inhabitants.

While part of me wants to set them all free, the animals here serve a larger purpose. Their up-close presence captures our undivided attention as we ooh and awe at their majesty, as well as their playful antics. They are no longer pictures in a book. These animals are living ambassadors for their individual species. They make us want to learn more and protect them, which is what a zoo is really all about.