Saturday, March 25, 2006

At the zoo!

Spent the afternoon at the Orana Wildlife Park. Very cool, though perhaps I should have remembered the fact that New Zealand had basically no mammals prior to European colonisation when setting my expectations.

Fed a giraffe, watched cheetah cubs fight each other over skinned rabbits (and in the process just about tear the feeding chute out of the cage), got almost close enough to a rhino that if he had wanted to, he could have seriously damaged me, watched lions pound against a truck in their enthusiasm for food.

On a less food oriented note, watched baby ring-tailed lemurs bathe each other, watched birds tease me for photos (oh, you want to get a picture? I'll hold still until your camera is just about - buhbye!), and walked until I was very footsore.

The Orana park is built on an open-range concept, with mostly natural barriers between the people and the animals. If my memory of the Singapore zoo is correct, I've seen it done better, but maybe that's just because Singapore had the lush tropical greenery prettying it up.

That's one thing I've been continually surprised at; just how dry a New Zealand summer seems to be. When you drive the countryside of New Zealand, they have regular installations of fire warning boards, that are updated to tell you whether the danger is mild, moderate, high, very high, etc. And they are updated in something close to real time - we had opportunity to verify that after a rainfall.

Now, off for my own supper!


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