Meeting wild animals up close opens Chloe to a world of possibilities
Chloe is a fourth-grader from Kitimat, B.C., with a true talent for storytelling and a love of animals. Her Sunshine Dream began with a letter:
“Dear Sunshine Foundation: I wish I could have a cow but my mom and dad said I could not have it! Then I read about Jane Goodall – she went to Kenya to learn about chimpanzees, so that gives me an idea. I want to go to Africa and see wild animals too.”
Sunshine chose the Marataba Safari Lodge in Thabazimbi, South Africa – a safari lodge that caters to families and one that could accommodate Chloe’s needs. Chloe has cerebral palsy, which affects the mobility in both legs and her right arm. To move around, she uses ankle braces, a wheelchair and, as a result of two recent surgeries, she can now use crutches for short distances.
Chloe set out with her mom Kita, dad Jonathan, and four-year-old brother Lyon, to see elephants and lions in the private South African reserve. “First of all,” says Chloe, “we drove past the lions. They were looking at the safari jeep like lunchboxes and they were looking at us like lunch.”
She excitedly lists the animals she saw during their trip – a leopard they followed for twenty minutes, quiet but friendly elephants, hippos that sounded like grumpy old men and, her favourite, lion cubs that Chloe and Lyon could play with. “They were so adorable. You wish you had them as pets, but they would get a lot bigger and eat their owners maybe. Even me. Even my dad!”
The experience has created life-long memories for the family and a change in Chloe. “She loves her stuffie animals and loves presents,” says Kita. “So, when we were talking about her birthday party invitations, she told me that she does not want any presents. She wants her friends to make a donation to help snow leopards.”
“I want to keep endangered animals on this planet,” says Chloe. “People are poaching them; so I’m trying to increase the population.”
Chloe’s next goals? Writing a funny kids’ book about animal bottoms and becoming an animal rescuer – or a dragon trainer.