Here I am, making the journey with Elaine to Wild Florida, about a 40-minute drive from the heart of Lake Nona, to attend the first ever Wild Paint Night Out!
We arrive to a sold-out event and meet our model, Aerie. Aerie is a 19- to 20-year-old sloth, and she was just hanging on to her handler like a child. Sloths can live to be around 30 years old. Aerie was enjoying an ear of corn, and she had kernels all over her face. I lost it.
Seeing a sloth that close up was sort-of strange. They’re almost alien-like and seem like such a foreign creature with their perfectly round eyes and slow movements. We were encouraged to take a “slothie” with her (a selfie with a sloth), and I thought that would be easy. For a slow-moving sloth, she moved pretty quickly and was blurry in almost every shot I took. Her handler joked with me, “You gotta be quicker than the sloth!”
Elaine and I laughed a little too hard at that comment. Some barbecue food was served as well as fried brownies, and participants who were of age received a ticket for an alcoholic beverage. We moved inside and entered a room filled with paint brushes and blank canvases. It was time to get painting!
Aerie was placed on her mobile tree limb to model, and off we went becoming artists. The first step was to trace a cut-out of Aerie and then paint the background. Things were going smoothly so far. Then we had to paint leaves, and this is where I spiraled out of control. I watched Elaine take off with her perfect banana leaves, and I ended up painting over mine and moving on, leafless.
Aerie ended up falling asleep in the corner, so she was taken out of the room and back to her area. The painting continued until Elaine and I realized we were the only people left painting. Call us perfectionists.
In the end, Elaine’s painting prevailed with her cleaner background and smoother sloth fur. I joked that mine looked like a little kid painted it, but some kids there did better than I did! This event was an absolute joy and is definitely family-friendly, with the occasional breaks the group would take from painting to do raffles and play quick little games to keep everyone entertained.
Since the event was such a hit for the inaugural paint night, Wild Florida has already scheduled their second “Wild Paint Night Out” for May 11, this time with a gator twist. Tickets can be purchased for the one-night-only event with their albino alligators, Blizzard and Snowflake, for $49.99 per person at www.wildfloridairboats.com.