Luchse und Schweine und Bären - oh my!
have been anxious to go to the Fasanerie since Frau Dietz told me about it many months ago and a few weekends ago there was enough of a break in the rain for us to finally go. The rain stayed mostly at bay, but what killed us was the decision to walk all the way there - more than 5km (uphill!). The walk around the park (more uphills!) was almost ruined by the Jell-O-feeling in my legs, but the furry critters helped keep my mind off my pathetically out-of-shape state.
The forest road to the Fasanerie
What I loved about the Fasanerie was that, unlike animal parks and zoos I've seen before, this was actually set in the woods, as opposed setting up an artificial habitat, which seemed to result in happier wildlife. Rather than the poor animals being carted halfway around the world and forced to live in a place not to their liking just so people can gawk and take photos, it appears as though these animals were all native to the area - or at least, very nearby - and the appropriate fences were just put up around them to keep the top of the food chain from eating the bottom of the food chain and to allow petting and feeding access to those animals that wouldn't eat little children.
Perhaps it was my exhaustion making me impatient, but I was eager to head straight for the big, scary animals (the wolves and bears). Something made me stop in my tracks en route to the outer edges of the park: the Waschbär. First, I had no idea this was the name for the raccoon in German. Second, I thought they didn't exist over here. I had come to rather miss those pesky animals that used to scratch their way up our fence outside our bedroom window every night, at all hours, and prowl around looking for food in our California back yard - and now here was one! I thought raccoons in the states were portly, but this guy was positively tubby. They must have had him on a similar diet to the 'coons we knew so well: spilled dogfood and garbage.
I was also thrilled to see wooden animals for children to play on, conveniently stationed next to the real animals they represented. Germans have a thing for wooden playthings - filling everything from playgrounds to toy stores. Aside from looking so charming and old-school, I love that the culture here still appreciates the simple things and doesn't feel the need to overstimulate children to the point of inflicting ADD. No blinding colors and artificial animal sounds to disturb the peacefulness of this wooded animal sanctuary.
The 'big and scary' animals provided a little excitement, but the wolves remained much less showy than the bears. I only caught a glimpse of one's fluffy tail as he sneaked through the forest. The bears were a bit smaller and less exciting than I'd imagined them to be, one even excusing himself up the hill to sit behind a tree and do his business (which of course brought to mind that famous analogy about what a bear does in the woods...).
By far the most exciting were the Büffel - wooly, enormous and just a wee bit scary (especially considering that tiny, three-wire fence that separated us). This big 'un seemed harmless enough, but she did keep eyeing us in such a way that made you wonder what was going on in that buffalo head. Perhaps we looked like lunch, or perhaps we just looked like ridiculous staring contest partners. Either way, she got bored after not too long and went on her way. The best thing about her though....
... she was a Rasta Büffel, sporting a very long and impressive dreadlock. I overheard the German family next to us say something about the 'Rasta' as well. It's nice to know some things know no language bounderies.
*Daily Drop Cap by Jessica Hische