everydaysparks

Stuff I see, which you might not.

A day at the Zoo

I love the zoo. I especially love our zoo, Taronga, here in Sydney. I know that zoos aren’t universally popular or politically correct, but I know enough about Taronga to know that they’re making a huge effort to make the animals’ zoo lives as interesting, healthy and fun as possible – and same goes for the visitors. And behind the scenes, they raise a lot of cash for important conservation work and run many important breeding programs.

(As an aside, they also run the incredible Roar & Snore program, with an overnight stay at the Zoo – glamping all the way – and several amazing behind-the-scenes tours with keepers. I’ve been twice and can’t recommend it highly enough if you’re looking for a unique gift or Sydney experience.) Here’s a pic of the set up from the Roar & Snore site, in case you don’t believe me!

Uh huh.

Uh huh.

Anyways, it was a lovely sunny day in Sydney yesterday, so I took myself off for a trip to the Zoo. Along with a lot of other people in Sydney, it seemed. It’s not an old-school zoo, so it doesn’t feel like you’re visiting the animals in jail – although judging by the many fools who climbed into the kangaroos’ area, some sort of electric shock system for idiot visitors might be in order. (I did wait around for a bit to see if the larger kangaroos might take matters into their own hands and kick the people out – literally – but they were very patient and polite hosts.)

Here are some pics from my day at the Zoo – if you haven’t been, or if you haven’t been for a while, then I reckon it’s definitely worth a visit on a sunny day!

Such a poser - this Rhinoceros Iguana was really working it for the camera. Or the sun.

Such a poser – this Rhinoceros Iguana was really working it for the camera. Or the sun.

It's a bit blurry, but I like to think this Lawson's Bearded Dragon was trying to lead his mates in a daring escape attempt.

It’s a bit blurry, but I like to think this Lawson’s Bearded Dragon was trying to lead his mates in a daring escape attempt.

And this is the brilliantly named FIERCE SNAKE. The most venemous land snake in the world, apparently, so he definitely lives up to his name.

And this is the brilliantly named FIERCE SNAKE. The most venomous land snake in the world, apparently, so he definitely lives up to his name. And the venom in one bite can kill 200,000 mice, so they say. Hope that’s toughened glass right there. 

Here are two Red Bellied Black Snakes getting close. And they don't have a rainbow scale pattern, that's a reflection from the glass, sorry!

Here are two Red Bellied Black Snakes getting close. And they don’t have a rainbow scale pattern, that’s a reflection from the glass, sorry! As is the creepy giant hand in the top right corner. 

I like this photo because the Short Necked Turtle was coming right at me. Also because he sort of looks to be wearing a little girl's shoe.

I like this photo because the Short Necked Turtle was coming right at me. Also because he looks to be wearing a little girl’s shoe.

Now that's a meal with a view, lucky giraffe.

Now that’s a meal with a bzillion dollar harbour view, lucky giraffe.

Some days, I feel the same, Chimps.

Some days, I feel just the same, Chimps.

Where the Chimpanzee enclosure meets the Human enclosure.

Where the Chimpanzee enclosure meets the Human enclosure.

 

The old elephant enclosure - they've moved out, but it's still a beautiful building.

The old elephant enclosure – they’ve moved out, but it’s still a beautiful building.

 

A Zoo with a View.

A Zoo with a View.

Just some of the crowd at the Zoo.

Just some of the crowd at the Zoo.

If you’re interested, you can check out the Taronga Zoo website here and the Roar & Snore info is here.

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Cakes. And Snakes.

My 2010 birthday cake – a giant cupcake

I come from a long line of cake lovers. And my mum was an amazing cake maker – every year, I used to get to choose a most incredible cake, which my mum would whip up the night before my birthday. I would go to bed hearing the sound of the mixer and in the morning, I would sneak into the dining room where the masterpiece would be sitting on the table. Under a barrier to keep it from me (and my brothers), of course.

I remember a large blackboard cake; a swimming pool cake complete with biscuit fence and green jelly as water; a clown; a bunny rabbit; a clock…oh, those were the days. I thought my mum was a magician – the way she could produce a cake that looked exactly like the one I’d seen in the book, overnight, just like that. I wasn’t to know how many hours she’d spent getting everything just right, or how long it took her to source and prepare the ingredients – to me, it was just an annual miracle that proved my mum was a genius. Which of course she was, and still is – even if she doesn’t make me elaborate cakes anymore. (That is probably for the best, as my metabolism seems to have slowed since the fancy-cake-days and that old formula of exercise required to burn off cake calories consumed seems to have tipped out of my favour.)

Last year, for my niece’s birthday, my sister-in-law went with a farmyard theme. We made these cupcakes – I was in charge of the chickens and the sheeps. A lot of marshmallows were needed in order to make a sheep face that didn’t look like he was going to attack the other animals (or the kids at the party). We were pretty pleased with our efforts.

Anyways, all this cake reminiscing was brought about by a link that my friend Ashley sent me the other day. According to an article in the Huffington Post, a lady in the UK had created an amazingly realistic cake for her daughter’s birthday that looks exactly like a Burmese python. Now, before I show you the photos, I should point out that Francesca (the python baker) works as a professional cake baker. My mum was a pharmacist and my sister and I have office jobs. Just so we can keep things in perspective, once I reveal the Burmese python birthday cake…

From the North Star Cakes Facebook page

And, voila. I’m not sure that I would have ever even thought to request a Burmese python cake. Kids these days. I’m not sure what inspired Francesca’s daughter to ask for it, but it has brought her mum fame across the internet. And presumably scared the life out of many of the party guests.

From the North Star Cakes Facebook page

The detail is just incredible, as is the colouring. Francesca is clearly an amazingly talented lady – I hope her daughter appreciates this cake as much as I appreciated my swimming pool cake. At this point, I should add some detail about my cake – my mum had even put little plastic people kicking back in Life Saver lollies in the pool. And green coloured coconut around the outside, as grass. I’m just sayin’.

From the North Star Cakes Facebook page

And finally, in what is probably not a faithful representation of the Burmese python, an inside full of delicious cake, jam and cream. Now, if there was a touch of red food colouring or jam that squirted out when the first cut was made, this cake would have been perfect. Almost as good as my mum’s swimming pool cake, I reckon.

You can read the Huffington Post article about Francesca’s cake here and the North Star Cakes Facebook page is here. Neither my sister-in-law nor my mum have a cake business Facebook page or a website, but I will check for some photos of my mum’s early work when I’m next at home and maybe Jane’s cakes will finally get the global recognition that she deserves!

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