A Day at the Zoo

DSCF1782.JPG Last Thursday we achieved another tick on our ‘Things to do in Edinburgh’ list with a visit to the zoo. It being one of the unwritten rules of zoo visiting that responsible adults must be accompanied by children, we borrowed Joanna, Jamie and Kirsty Dougall for the day (along with their responsible adults, Wilma and Colin). The Dougalls are relatively frequent visitors to the zoo and the children knew their way around, bounding up the paths and greeting some of the residents like old friends. For me it’s over 40 years since I was last in Edinburgh Zoo and much has changed. The emphasis is now thankfully less on ‘here’s what an elephant looks like up close’ and more on conservation, information and interesting things for children to do around animals.
DSCF1787.JPG Some things don’t change, of course, like the penguin parade, although I seem to recall that there were rather more than five participants all those years ago – maybe the penguins are unionised now, have organised themselves into shifts, have a better work/life balance. At any rate a couple of hundred or so humans assembled along the path and perched on adjoining walls to watch another five or six humans herd two king penguins and three gentoos up the hill and back down again. A bit of an elaborate performance for a rather underwhelming show before an expectant audience.
DSCF1756.JPG Amur leopards are unsurprisingly cat-like in their behaviour, just a bit scaled up. Dee was a bit disturbed that despite the relatively large and well-appointed enclosures, some of the animals were pacing. The tiger made a brief appearance before disappearing into a dark corner with his lunch. Lions still smell really bad. Exotic birds with weird and wonderful head-dresses looked like the inspiration for some fantastic fascinators. Otters played as otters do. Sun bears sunned themselves as much as you can in Edinburgh in a snell October wind and slight drizzle. The collective noun for zebras is an entirely appropriate dazzle.
Apparently there are ten Bali starlings left in the whole world and two of them are in Edinburgh, chattering away, ethereally vulnerable. Sea eagles have fearsome yellow beaks and claws. Another highlight was two rhinos stampeding towards us through the mud. Looked like they were enjoying themselves, in a weirdly prehistoric way.
DSCF1771.JPG It was a grand day out. Kirsty the budding intrepid photo-journalist framed some fine shots. Here are some of our pictures. Dee took them with my camera having smashed her own on the top of Carnethy hill last weekend trying to take a picture of the two of us when her monopod-cairn-arrangement did not withstand the prevailing wind. Her new Lumix LX5 with Leica lens arrives shortly. Expect some finer images adorning this site in due course.

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