A week or so ago I posted about a Eureka moment I had about becoming a tourist in your own hometown. Basically, it occurred to me that once leaving my home country all I could think
about was travelling to see the world, explore new cultures &
experience the unique and infamous *activities* of the exotic,
cities we come across. It’s taken a few years to occur to me, but how
often do we travel-lusting lot sit back and explore our
own hometown backyard?
|A faux Kiwi egg!|
With this in mind, a 101 in 1001 goal list swiftly nearing to completion
date and an afternoon pootling around Wellington, I utilized my mate
Google Search and stumbled upon something amazing.
Something incredible –
Wellington Zoo offers animal experiences where you can find yourself up
close and personal with a selection of their zoo pals.
Zoos are a marmite institution. Some people hate the caging of animals,
some love being able to educate themselves of the many wonderful species
Mother Nature offers, and some like me can’t help but see zoos from an
ecological need perspective. Like it or not, humans are awful; poaching,
eroding natural habitats and changing the strata of long-established
Good Zoos, to my mind and to my very limited experience, play an
integral role in helping these animals. Breeding programmes helping to
keep species from dying out, drumming up fundraising and PR awareness
for wild animals, and provide carefully thought out sanctuaries that
earnestly care about the welfare and happiness of their animals. Not all
institutions are created equal, and not all do as much as they can for
the happiness of their inhabitants.
|A Tuatara – a New Zealand native and one of the last dinosaurs in the world
Wellington Zoo, and for that matter London Zoo where I acted as a zookeeper for the day,
try to look after their animals the best they can. They also allow for
humans to interact with incredible animals through experience days (ps.
this isn’t a comped post, just something I’m incredibly passionate
about) in ways that just wouldn’t be possible otherwise.
At London Zoo
Ringtailed Lemurs scamper across my lap, been eye to beady eye with
penguins and experienced mucking out & saw-dusting the Zebra &
Okapi pens. I was also warned that my handbag would be checked on exit
for Penguins, but that’s a story for another day.
|My love for animals has always however been of the feline kind.
Ranging from a childhood dream of working with big Cats, but having to
settle with volunteering at the RSPCA, owning a wee tabby
beastie cat and hanging out with office monkeys – sorry, I mean
colleagues – I set a goal of patting a big cat on my 101 in 1001 goal
list, never thinking that it would happen in the hilly surrounds of
|Zulu and I having a moment|
Oh yes, it really happened, and what’s
more, we got to feed treats during behaviour training with two enormous,
utterly beautiful male Lions; Malik
and Zulu. Hanging out in the medical pens at the back of the Lion
enclosures, we assisted – read: stared at the magnificent cats – the
keeper with behavoural training, that is getting the Lions to move into
certain areas of the pen for weighing, check-ups and for their daily
case you were wondering, a Lion’s licking your hand just feels like a
drier cat’s tongue on a much larger scale. Stick that with the rest of
the useless facts from this blog!
We openhandedly fed them meat, stared into their big eyes and eventually
got to pat their beautiful hides through a gap in the cage walls
(mostly so they didn’t accidentally turn and crush our fingers). I don’t
think I’ve ever been more awed at raw power and feline beauty.
They really are like enormous, very dangerous housecats; they rumble and roar, have hairy slightly oily coats and get up to all sorts of mischeif; Malik likes to wee on unsuspected keepers in between highly essential naps.
|This isn’t my hand… she was harrumphing at us as she’d missed out on meaty treats|
Once we tottered of the back area, not before we said hey to one of the upset Lionesses, we explored the rest of Wellington Zoo, dodging kids and ploughing up the steep hill. But hey, just check out the incredible views not to mention the Momma and baby Campuchin monkeys…