18 June 2009

The London Zoo

And because I am so in the blog zone it is SICK (cue my third cup of coffee), here are some London Zoo pictures!

Now before I get started, let me throw in a disclaimer: I typically don't like zoos. Not because of 'the inhumane treatment of animals' or anything remotely honorable like that, but because they're just so effing BORING. You walk to a fence. You stare at a lion lying apathetic and innert in the sun. This is entertaining for approximately...one and a half seconds. You try to make eye contact, in the hopes that if he sees you and your happy, beaming face, he will become enthralled and do something thrilling, like stand up, but he doesn't, and so you move on to the next enclosure. You briefly skim the description printed on the wooden podium of the exhibited animal: 'The okapi, or Okapia johnstoni, comes from central Africa...' and rapidly zone out. Turning your gaze to the fabricated central African zone before you (consisting of a lot of dirt and a single tree), you strain to find this exotic beast. He is nowhere to be found. Perhaps it is feeding time in that dank, smelly warehouse located at the rear of the African plain. And so it goes: hours of trodding, squinting, waving, yelling, and moving on. Honestly, if I want to see loads of sleeping and pacing animals, I'll just go back to my desk job, where at least they occasionally get feisty after lunch.

But THIS zoo, far from being dull as dirt, was as wildly entertaining as the Cirque du Soleil.* Not because of its miniscule size (which was nice), nor because of its fabulous location at the top of Regent Park (which was nice), but mostly because of the fact that the animals were just plain SASSY. All three of them. Check out the way they posed for my camera:

This is one I like to call 'Another Day in the Jail Yard.' You can tell he's torn between the mess hall and the weight room, and wishes someone would start a pick-up game of baseball:

This was taken in the Butterfly Sanctuary. Initially you would think (as I did), 'A butterfly sanctuary! How charming! A hot and steamy little rainforest with hundreds of butterflies fluttering around you!' But then you go in and find yourself sweating and surrounding by all of these darting, flying creatures, who were doing their best summertime-moth impressions, and it was actually a bit alarming. All of the swooping and diving around your face is far from relaxing or magical, and you find yourself--as you instinctively duck and jerk back--wishing for a flyswatter. Needless to say, I loved it.

And last, but not least, we have this guy, who I think by his expression needs no introduction:

And the one who stole the show:
This cat, while perhaps not a 'technical' zoo animal, was prowling the enclosure of the above bird. He stalked about the tall grass, eyeing his prey, and totally plotting a coup. He was by far my favorite exhibit of the entire day. One, it was the first time I saw an animal doing anything that was remotely natural, and two, you've got to respect a domestic housecat playing predator to such a wildly exotic and possibly aggressive bird. I couldn't help but secretly hope for some kind of live discovery channel action but alas, the wire mesh proved too much of a barrier, not to mention the bell around his neck (obviously his owner knows how he spends his days), so he could only lurk about threateningly, ruffling the bird's feathers.

And so concludes my tour! I would follow up with a recommendation, except, well...you've kinda seen it all right here.

*I'm lying to you. There is nothing in the world more entertaining than a show that ties midgets to giant balloons and sends them afloat.


Anonymous said...

Fantastic photos!

alison mc said...

how come i can't view photos? is it a "mac" thing?

Rona said...

I don't know what's going on! I can't see them right now, either! Let me see what's going on...

deee said...

that tropical vulture is scary looking!

lez mcq said...

Do you know Marie worked at London Zoo and wrote many of those animal description plaques?