On our recent family trip to Hawaii, I planned an excursion to an animal sanctuary. I convinced the proprietor to permit my 3.5-year-old on the property, despite the minimum guest age being seven. I assured the hippie who answered the phone that my daughter poses no harm to animals.
At the start of the tour, we saw cats, deer, and ducks. It was in the pig pen when things took a turn for the worse.
The hippie tour guide welcomed each visitor to place a snack in front of Mr. Pig. He, being two hundred pounds, was collapsed on the ground. When he smelled food, he labored to his feet and began munching. I was told I could pet him, and I approached cautiously with my daughter off to my side.
Mr. Pig did not want to be bothered. He whipped his head against my offending arm and propelled me backward with his snout. I yelped and hustled out of his space with my daughter in front of me.
“Oh, he probably doesn’t want to be touched while he’s eating,” the hippie tour guide said, unhelpfully. You think?
Next, we visited two massive free range male turkeys. We were told one of them was okay with having his feathers stroked, but that he tended to attack men. Sure enough, he pecked at my husband’s legs. Mr. Turkey hadn’t even asked us our pronouns, so how did he know how we identify?
Finally, it was in the goat pen when all hell broke loose. The hippie tour guide led us through a gated channel that had us — and the goats — leaving the main pen to some other unseen area where she said there would be snacks to feed the goats.
We sensed the goats’ impatience. One of them — a massive, brown, bristly-haired creature we were told was half goat, half sheep (whuh??)—had its creepy horizontal pupils trained on us. Without provocation, it repeatedly lunged in our direction.
The tour guide placed herself between that unholy hybrid and her guests, desperately trying to use her frail torso and arms to propel the hulking creature down the path.
With our focus on the trail ahead, none of us noticed the black and white goat keeping pace at our side. It suddenly bucked its head into my husband’s knee. He cried out in pain and surprise. The goat had rammed him so hard, it knocked my husband out of his flip flops!
At that point my daughter began to scream hysterically. With my husband limping, I lifted my daughter as high up my body as I could. She continued screaming anyway, her pitch rising each time a goat looked at us.
Screw these homeless animals, I thought. We’re not going to survive this tour!
I told the guide we wanted out. What’s the quickest way out of the goat pen I demanded to know.
“The goats know there are snacks at the end of this walk,” she said. “We’re moving too slowly for them so they’re trying to herd us along.”
But you’re the one setting the pace, lady! If you know these goats are a menace to society, why’d you put us in close proximity?
“So, how do we get out of the pen?” I asked again, my panic mounting.
“They’re just trying to tell us to move faster,” she repeated, still physically struggling to force the demon shoat into leaving us alone.
Are you saying there’s no way out of this horror movie? my thoughts screamed.
After completing the excruciatingly long walk to an exit gate, we obtained our freedom. We slunk back to our car, outraged and embarrassed.
When my husband later checked into a local urgent care, he found he was not the first but the second goat injury of the day.
This is why, when people ask me if I’m a cat person or a dog person, I’m like, “Neither! I’m a wildlife-outside-in-nature-taking-care-of-itself kind of person!”