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Baby Animals!!!

This post has to be dedicated to my father.

He’s always been fascinated with nature, and is a big part of why my sister and I spent a lot of our childhood gazing and poking at things (or if you’re me, trying to pet things, like bees, that should not necessarily be petted).

He’s also always been what society would generally describe as ‘maternal’- very good with children and ga-ga over babies. I’m not trying to put a gender swing on him, but I think the connotations we’ve developed for the word ‘paternal’ involve things like scotch and driving lessons and golf and threatening of boyfriends or something…

A couple of years ago my parents finally graduated from having a single, 30 cm TV in the house, to having a full fancy-pants with-bells-on Plasma or LCD thingame. This coincided fairly well with the introduction of 5-10 new TV channels in Perth, after years of us only having a few, and thus the need for new and exciting programming to fill the many hours.

It also coincided with what I will disrespectfully refer to as my father entering his ‘dotage’: the period of his life in which he intends to watch a lot of TV.

The dotage part is that, with the possible exception of the Fussball, he intends for most of that TV viewing experience to involve some form of baby animal.

You will be surprised at just how many TV shows contain baby animals. And I do not refer to ‘incidental’ baby animals: a coincidental kitten, a puppy as a plot device. No no! I mean whole shows, revolving entirely around the things.

And my father watches them all.

So Father.

Behold The Baby Animals That We Saw At Berlin Zoo!

(Photo taken by Ashleigh)

(Photo taken by Ashleigh)

(Photo taken by Ashleigh)

What’s this- these are just normal sized owls you say?

Check out this fluffball:

(Photo taken by Ashleigh)

There are actually two owls in this photo. But the fatter one is basically sitting on the smaller one.

A baby Hippo is still quite large:

As is a baby elephant:

And a baby giraffe:

Did I hear you suggest that many babies are cuter than single babies??

Does that hold true if they are baby warthogs??

This little guy was pretty cute too!

I think that’s it of the babies. But there must be something in the water because every second animal seemed to have just recently birthed.

Anyway, we went to the zoo.

I like animals. As at least 97 % of the people who ever did a Conservation Biology type degree at uni, I grew up with a healthy dosage of David Attenborough.
But Andy isn’t really into them.
He feels incapable of respecting anything that cannot fix inorganic carbon (i.e. that isn’t photosynthetic)… so apart from plants, it’s pretty much down to that awesome seaslug that has found a way to capture and use the chloroplasts from the algae that it eats.
(as an aside, if you haven’t already heard about this you should google photosynthesising sea slug, it’s seriously cool: the creature can survive for months in the light, using the energy from its stolen chloroplasts, which are aptly named kleptoplasts, but in the dark can only survive a couple of weeks).
Andy also tends to see animals as ‘dirty’, and distrusts anything that might be able to move faster than him and could possibly be his natural enemy.
Which the long way of saying, that although I like animals, I’m not sure that I would have got around to seeing the zoo without the prompting of the Visiting Cousin. Thanks Visiting Cousin!
But it was beautiful.
The zoo itself is a quite lovely area….

… and they have a great deal of all sorts of different animals. The weirdest being an ‘Aussie magpie’.
But it was also a little startling.
In some ways the areas felt more open than the Perth zoo: Perth has glass everywhere, where as this was more Open Air, with the animals on ‘islands’.
But a lot of the closures felt way too small, and it didn’t feel as if enough care had been taken in making the space feel ‘like home’.

This was especially true for the lions- the male was roaming back and forwards and roaring continuously, and he just seemed so, so bored.
And for the many birds, things like vultures and eagles, which were given no space to fly. 

(Photo from Ashleigh)

And some of the animals seemed to want out:

(I’m not sure what this bird is, but it looks pretty flightless, so I’m going to assume it’s from New Zealand.)

On the other hand, some animals seemed to be pretty happy just chilling, and others seemed to be having the time of their life.

This seal kept swimming around and jumping on the land and then diving in the water, sliding along the edges and generally showing off. He was fabulous. The thing is, I’m not sure if that was his way of saying he was bored.

It left me with mixed feelings.

I don’t like animals being kept in small enclosures, and ultimately, any environment that is not their native habitat is not ideal: taming a wild creature can be the most damaging thing you can do to it.

But we’ve already screwed up a lot of things so very badly, and in some cases, without zoo populations and breeding programs, many creatures would be well and truly extinct.

Furthermore, there’s a quote which I think comes from Gerald Durrell*, which basically states that when it comes to conservation, in the end we will save only what we love, and we can love only what we understand.

*Edit- the quote is from Baba Dioum, and it goes like this:

“In the end we will conserve only what we love; we will love only what we understand; and we will understand only what we have been taught.”

And I agree with that wholeheartedly. If the next generation is going to have any chance of being better than us at this planet co-habitation thing, they need to love the creatures in the world. And I can think of few ways to do this more efficiently than to take a small children to the zoo, and let him or her see the elephants.

Or, if you’re like me and have a fondness for ‘Life in the Freezer’, the Penguins!

At the end of the day we listed our favourite animals, and I came down pretty firmly on the side of the ‘Italian Job Mafia Penguins’.

I also loved this little guy, who was running around his cage so fast it was impossible to get any sort of decent photo:

I’m pretty sure he was screaming ‘I’M A MONGOOSE LOOK AT ME I’M A MONGOOSE TOO FAST FOR A COBRA I’M SO MONGOOSEY’ the whole time too.

I also liked this guy, because I’m pretty sure it’s just a cat that they’ve given an exotic name to (Sandcat):

and because he’s being scratched on the head with a broom!

Ash loved the seals, and- for some reason, was pretty fond of the baby hippo.

But she was also impressed by the polar bears: although part of this was because it took us ages to find them.

 Andy was generally into the monkeys, but he liked the Chimp the best, primarily because it sat right up on the edge- as close to the visitors as it could be- but with its back to us, deliberately ignoring us!

 Feeding Time!


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