WILD LIFE ZALA PARK

ZALA stands for Zanzibar Land Animals and the park is run by a local schoolteacher who was weary of seeing people kill woodland critters (sometimes endangered) out of fear or superstition. Mohammad, the Park's Ranger, started ZALA in an attempt to educate local kids but the menagerie is now on the list of most tours going through the area. Moh'd's made natural habitat homes for snakes, monitor lizards, crabs, turtles, dik-dik (mini gazelle-like creatures) and hyrax (the closest living species to the elephant—but it looks like a rabbit with no ears).

If you show an interest in the park and the animals, Moh'd will give you a personal tour and take you into "labs" and let you in on all his other projects (starting an aviary, frog-catching, salamander hatching, etc.). He might even let you crawl into the python area (which is caged with a kind of chicken wire) where he keeps three or four jumbo-sized pythons. He complained that the babies keep getting away before he can catch them because they can slip through the wire. I went into the python pen for a photo and the lazy snakes ignored me, but Moh'd promised to let me handle one next time. Since the pythons can weigh in at up to 40 kg, I don't know who is handling whom.

Give generously. He's doing a great thing, he's without formal grants and it is a time-consuming and costly endeavor.

Jozani Forest is a protected forest and is home to some of our long lost primate cousins, as much as Jesse Helms and Ralph Reed don't want to admit. The Red Colobus monkeys are indigenous to Zanzibar and they live about 1,000 strong in and around the protected forest. They don't all live together, but rather, in little groups. Watch your guide closely because, if he sneaks up on the monkeys, they may try to pee on you. Keep your camera ready because if they decide to switch locations while you're there, you'll see them swinging from branches, jumping on each other and even running on the ground—maybe through your legs. Don't feed the monkeys. Don't try to touch them and don't visit them if you're with cold or flu.