Thursday, November 20, 2008

A Tale of Two Zoos

Today I took advantage of the weather - dry and not too cold - to use my membership pass and take Little Cherub to Whipsnade Zoo. Unusually for Whipsnade in November we managed to stay quite warm - the zoo is in a very exposed position and gets every blast of cold wind going. The five layers of clothes may have helped; so may the hot soup and chips (fries) for lunch. As this is the zoo's winter season we were able to take the car in without charge and drive round, turning it into a rather eclectic safari-style experience. I had never noticed before just how geographically jumbled parts of the zoo are ... reindeer, antelope, yaks and camels all sharing the same large open area was a particularly bizarre combination!

It is a while since I had taken Cherub on her own and it was very noticeable how much more engaged and curious she has become. We have definitely moved beyond the "look, an elephant!" stage to real interest in the different animals and their habits - camels eating hay, yaks that give milk ("milk come from cows!" ... "yes, and from yaks too" ... "oooohhh!!!"), the size of a yawning hippos mouth. She was intrigued by the mara which roam freely, which she called "mara rabbits" after I said they looked a bit like a giant rabbit. She also took charge of the map and wanted me to show her where the different animals were - they are marked with little pictures - and where we were going next.

Our highlight of the day was a stand off between a rhino and a magpie. The magpie was perched on the muddy rhino's back pecking at something tasty it had found there. This was clearly irritating the poor rhino, who tried everything he could to shake it off - running (too slow!), shaking, and wriggling as best a rhino can. The magpie simply stood there and carried on pecking. After a while the rhino gave up and just stood looking grumpy until the magpie eventually decided it was done and flew off. I'm sure there is a fable in there somewhere.

Today's zoo trip reminded me that I meant to post some photos from our trip to London Zoo at half-term and forgot. Here are a few to make up for the lack of any today (I forgot the camera) ...

Star took this photo of one of her favourite animals, the tapir ...



The pair of silverback gorillas ...


We loved the butterfly house. This raggedy moth was the size of a soup plate ...


And finally Star with dragons. The Welsh dragon came to visit after she was voted class "star of the week"; the komodo dragon can be seen in the background trying to disguise himself as a log. Lighting and focus were my downfall in this photo, but he was such an impressive lizard I'm posting it anyway.

2 comments:

Theresa said...

"I'm sure there is a fable in there somewhere."
Absolutely!

Jennifer said...

Love this post, dd adores zoos too, though all the zoos we've been to are arranged by continent including the horrid Kansas City Zoo where all the animals are given hiding places out view and Africa is across a monster bridge over the Blue River that you have to slog across to see the really good animals. You know, I read once that the Smithsonian Museums used to be fabulous because they were like America's attic, oddities crammed in everywhere, round a corner and you never knew what you'd find. It's all been organized to death now, the sense of exploration is gone. It's awesome to hear that some zoos in the world are still nice for exploring - all the world is not a DK Book after all! :)