So I did something much better - grabbed one of my awesome partners-in-crime (in this case, Miss Leah), and headed out for some adventures.
I was given the option of going to restaurants, spas, etc. - the typical Valentine's Day fare. But one item stood out from the rest as something I'd never thought of doing myself. An overnight stay in a suite at Jungle Cat World.
Prepare yourself for an onslaught of photos. (If you make it all the way to the end, you'll be rewarded with a giveaway. Woo hoo, bribes!)
Ready to go to the jungle?
We'll start with the suite. They have three different suites to choose from, and they're amazing - and when you stay over, you get to visit the zoo after hours at any time. We were lucky enough to be upgraded to the Safari Lodge Suite (though while we were there, I called it the Cougar Suite. Because, y'know... we're not as young as we used to be.).
To save you from scrolling, I made a suite GIF.
There was a balcony off the living room that overlooked the whole zoo.
Not too shabby.
But before we hung out in the suite, we took a guided feeding tour to see all the animals. Excuse the quality of photos, the fences make it a bit tough to show you how amazing these animals were.
I loved this guy. His name was Todd.
I suppose I should preface the rest of this post with some much-needed info.
I know some people have questions about zoos like this one, and I admit that I had my reservations before deciding to visit. I don't love the idea of animals being out of their natural setting, and places like Marineland really drive home the danger of certain zoos and similar attractions.
But I'm glad to say that Jungle Cat World is different. I looked for as much info as I could beforehand, and did some reading while there. It's a home for some orphaned animals, and some species that are close to becoming extinct, and so the zoo works to re-populate them. They're protecting and conserving. They're even accredited by CAZA, "a non-profit organization established to promote the welfare of animals and encourage the advancement of education, conservation and science."
The people who work here are wonderful - all of the animals are loved and well cared for, with large enclosures to roam.
So, with all that out of the way & the ability to breathe easy about it... on with the tour.
I was reminded of myself.
Such a pretty snow leopard.
If you recall, Ed was the best hyena. No offense to Whoopie Goldberg, of course.
He just can't wait to be king.
This is Nairobi. Looks like Simba upgraded from Nala to her mom.
(Seriously, do you hate me for my Lion King comments yet? Of course you do.)
Looking at monkeys.
Leah's diggin' all of it.
Ah, the lemurs. You'll see a lot more of them shortly.
On our heads.
We caught these lion cubs playing around in a training section of the zoo. They're so happy, and so cute.
More on them shortly as well.
If you look up above the peacocks, you'll see our suite's balcony.
This turkey was out to get me. I swear he was chasing me at one point. Then, later on, he was standing below our balcony, yelling at me.
There may have been expletives, but I don't really speak turkey.
Fowl mouthed. (Terrible pun, my sincerest apologies.)
Views from the balcony.
The night in the suite was fun.
We got way too much junk food, drank some wine, and may or may not have Snapchat-ed some very odd videos, featuring instruments, a climbing wall, stuffed tigers, and a rendition of Rafiki's "Circle of Life" lion cub presentation.
What happens in a zoo stays in a zoo.
Except for what you post on the internet.
The next morning brought the snow.
And the alpacas!
In the middle of a zoo, listening to Zeppelin. So, a normal Thursday morning.— Kris Goetz (@KrisGoetz) January 28, 2016
We chose three animals to hang out with, starting with the adorable little lion cubs:
"Back off chick, this guy's mine."
This is where she bit me. They're at the bite-y stage, and apparently I was tasty.
Never thought I'd be able to say that I was bit by a lion... and that it was completely adorable.
Come on. Look at the face.
Too small for a tea party.
Then we hung out with the Serval Tiger.
Can't say I blame it.
Two of them were named Daisy & Gatsby, so y'know it was meant to be for me.
We fed them bananas from our hands...
... and then on our heads.
Of the three of us, I make the dumbest faces.
Daisy and Gatsby are classy.
Alone again. Sigh.
And then we headed out on the 2.5 hour drive home, thoroughly happy about our trip. I have to say, this faux Valentine's with a non-romantic partner was better than any real one. Thanks again to LifeExperiences and Jungle Cat World (you guys were fantastic!).
And, as promised, a giveaway. Because you were all so patient.
Enter below to win a $100 LifeExperiences gift certificate that you can use toward restaurants, spas, other fun outings and, of course, a trip to Jungle Cat World. This makes a stellar gift for your Valentine (or, for your best friend/cousin/person who shares half your brain).
Good luck, and happy V-day, ya animals!