I visited the zoo yesterday. I go quite regularly as I have a Friends of the Zoo ticket - which allows me to go as often as I like over 12 months. This was given to me for a birthday present in October 2006. I didnt get to activate it until April 2007, but they still gave me 12 months from April 07 rather than October. It expired on 4th April this year, so pitching up at the zoo yesterday, I decided to purchase another years use of the zoo for a one lump sum of $75.00. Expensive I know, but one visit to Auckland Zoo is $18.00 so you only need to go 4 times and you've paid for it. I tend to go about 6 or 7 times per year with my camera so it's well worth it for me.
Anyway - I proceeded to the office and they punched all the details into the computer.
"oh - it hasn't expired yet - it doesn't until 13th August"
I showed them my card which definitely said 4th April 2008. They tried to do it again, and again it showed it wouldn't expire until 13th August. Very weird.
So they promptly printed out another card for me, put it round my neck, gave me back my credit card and said it was my lucky day and go and enjoy the zoo. Free. And Free until 13th August! Amazing.
I really enjoyed the zoo, the weather was amazing, not a cloud in the sky, warm in the sun but cold out of it. I caught two really amazing photographs of otters - my favourite animals to watch as they are full of boundless energy and enthusiasm.
It gave me a chance to test out of my implant with animal sounds. At least they don't sound twangy. The otters were much higher pitched than I had ever heard before. They sounded like a dog on helium. They were quite noisy as they were waiting to be fed. Every now and then they'd stand up on their hind legs and peer out the window to see if the keepers were coming with their fish..
They would cry pitifully then pack a sad face for all to see...
I wanted to take one home as a pet as I thought they were really cute. But then I got a reminder whiff of that musky skunklike smell they leave around the place to mark their territory, and I decided they might be better off in the zoo!
We wandered around, found an exhibition of some of the medical exhibitions - the testes of the hippo, which really do show up the human race as puny in comparison. And the phallus of a Galapagos Tortoise. He damaged it rather badly apparently and it had to be amputated. Makes me wonder what he was doing with it to damage it! OSH is obviously not doing their job properly as I saw no evidence of warning signs to help prevent other tortoises from doing the same! He is apparently quite happy but unable to breed of course. He's been named 'Willy'. Personally, I think they should have renamed him 'dewillied', but I guess that doesn't have the same 'ring' to it.
Next section was the bird section. With my old implant, I was able to hear birds really well. So much so that I could recognise their calls and know what was around me. This came in very handy for photography. However with the new implant, I'm not quite at the stage yet to recognise everything, although I am recognising a few. It'll take practise and I will need to visit lots of bird sanctuaries so I can relearn. However, all is not lost. I recognised the fast shrill chirruping of the Zebra Finch yesterday so I knew it was about, kept my eyes peeled, and found it with my camera lens..
I also found the Rainbow Lorikeet, happy as always, chirping and dancing on his branch. This one was really dancing - bobbing up and down, really looked hilarious..
We stopped at every bird cage, and I was very happy to hear very dinstinctively the macaw say 'Hello' to me. Like everyone else around me, he also had a midwestern twang. But I did hear the word hello without lipreading. Parrots are enromously difficult to lipread. If you don't believe me you should try it sometime! I'm sure this implant was taken off the wrong shelf. They took it off the shelf marked Midwestern USA instead of New Zealand Kiwi. Hence the accents that are troubling me!!
While sitting down for a short break, deleting some blurred images off my memory card, I heard a noise. Lion I said. Elephant Rita said. I thought Rita was probably right - after all I'm deaf, and my ears are definitely not to be trusted. It happened again. Lion I said. Lion Rita said - yippee - I was right after all and perhaps I should start trusting my ears again now??
Onto the hippo. They're huge. They weren't doing much. I suppose if you have to lug around that much weight, you can't really do much at all. They're vegetarians - they eat things like cabbage. How can you put on so much weight eating cabbages?? Anyway they just walked around on the bottom of their pond. So instead I watched an agressive male duck. Really aggressive. Then I saw it jump up and down on a female duck. Hmmmm This is while they were floating on the pond. My heart went out to the female (us females have to stick together). She nearly drowned.. (Note to self - do not mate in water deeper than 2 inches).
There must have been something in the air - because the Pink Flamingos next door were acting up too. They were honking loudly, flapping their wings on the water really loudly, fighting, doing funny things with their wings and legs, and generally making a helluva racket. I suspect I was watching some sort of mating ritual. You can really learn a lot at zoos!
I wouldn't like to be on the wrong side of their beaks either, they looked vicious. The sound of their honking was deep and to me, sounded quite croaky. I actually enjoyed their hilarious display, complete with noise, and I think it was the noise that made me enjoy it the most.
No sound at the monkey cages, but I was particularly taken by the cotton top Tamarins. They always look so cute and small. They are always fairly shy though, and hardly ever look into the camera, no matter how many times I call out 'Whisky' as a cue for them to smile.
However, I found out they are vain and I have the proof... The term that comes to mind is 'monkey see monkey do' for some reason. This one is making sure her makeup is not smudged..
Anyway - it was a really enjoyable day, filled with lots of new sounds. The only time I was irritated was when those tourists used golf carts to get around the zoo. They were really noisy and I felt they were intrusive.
A few more pics...
Here's one of a reflection in one of the animal moats. You can see what fantastic weather we had.. And here is the coat of our Tiger. I think it's gorgeous and would love to touch it. Shame tigers are so unpredictable...
Anyway thats it. Next zoo trip will be the Philadelphia Zoo in the US of A. Roll on 7th July :)