everydaysparks

Stuff I see, which you might not.

Roaring and Snoring at Taronga Zoo

On Saturday night, a wonderful tradition continued for me here in Sydney. Actually, I think I have written about it here before, but that was a while back, so I’m sure it’s ok if I tell you about it again. It all started almost six years ago, when my eldest niece turned eight. Given that her birthday is in December, I gave her a combined birthday-Christmas present of a Roar and Snore adventure at Taronga Zoo.

(If you’re not familiar with Taronga Zoo, it’s in a fabulous location with some of the best views in Sydney (especially if you’re a giraffe) and they have a really strong commitment to ensuring that the animals are well looked after – which makes for some large enclosures and interesting activities.)

Life is good, especially at Roar and Snore. [image from Taronga Zoo website]

Life is good, especially at Roar and Snore.
[image from Taronga Zoo website]

Anyways, last weekend it was finally the turn of the youngest of the three sisters in the family to head off for our overnight excursion to the zoo. LG was super excited about it – I know that for sure because she had written I AM SO EXCITED! on the gift voucher in giant letters. She had also started a countdown on her calendar and her whiteboard some time before we were due to go and had written a long list of things that she needed to pack in her bag – she’s an organised gal, alright.

The view from our tent. Uh huh.

The view from our tent. Uh huh.

And so we headed off to the zoo on Saturday evening in perfect weather. Arriving around sunset, we settled into our glamping accommodation – the large ‘tents’ have wooden floors, nice beds (with electric blankets) and two layers of zipped material doors to keep the pesky possums out. Over drinks and nibbles we had a close encounter with some new friends – including a snake, blue tongue lizard, leaf insect and a few others. And then after dinner, we went on a fantastic night tour of the zoo, when a lot of the boring daytime animals become very active creatures indeed.

Our new lizard friend. Did you know that lizards have ears and snakes do not?

Our new lizard friend. Did you know that lizards have ears and snakes do not?

LG makes a new pal - the Children's Python (named after a guy called Children, not because it eats kids...apparently)...

LG makes a new pal – the Children’s Python (named after a guy called Children, not because it eats kids…apparently)…

Overnight, we heard some roaring and some snoring (not from within our tent, I swear) and then it was an early start for breakfast before heading off for more behind-the-scenes interactions. Feeding the tall and frankly bizarre-looking giraffes their carrot breakfast was an incredible experience – some people even got a bit of a slurp from their loooong blue tongues. And then a close-up look (while staying dry) at the leopard seal being trained – amazing stuff. After that, we said goodbye to our new friends (humans and animals) and then spent the morning wandering around the zoo.

She looks lovely, but we were grateful for the extra thick glass between us, just in case...

She looks lovely, but we were grateful for the extra thick glass between us, just in case…

Yeah, yeah, hello everyone. Now hand over our breakfast.

Yeah, yeah, hello everyone. Now hand over our breakfast.

Hello, possum.

Hello, possum.

A tortoise (I think). Shows its age through the rings on its shell, like the rings on a tree trunk. Just in case you were wondering...

A tortoise (I think). Shows its age through the rings on its shell, like the rings on a tree trunk, apparently.

Up close and personal with the amazing leopard seal.

Up close and personal with the amazing leopard seal.

Show-off.

A beautiful show-off.

One of the highlights (which I wish I could’ve captured better, but it was actually pretty scary at the time) happened when we were checking out the chimps on our early morning tour. The guide was telling us about the male boss chimp and, right on cue, he came to the front of the enclosure (you can hear her in the video advising not to make eye contact). He was right up at the glass and started tapping on the ground in front of us. The guide suggested that we could tap back at him.

And then he went a little bit nuts and hurled his large self at full pace right up against the glass and ran towards us. Thankfully, the $10k per pane extra-thick glass did its thing – but it definitely woke us up first thing in the morning!

I really can’t recommend this experience highly enough – for adults and kids alike – especially as a great gift idea for visitors or people who might be tricky to buy for around Christmas-time… If you’re interested (and you really should be, according to LG, her sisters and me), you can find out more at the Roar and Snore website here.

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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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A puggle named Beau

In exciting news for people who love animals, people who love Australia, or people who just love strange looking creatures with funny names, Sydney’s Taronga Zoo have announced that they’re now looking after a 40 day old puggle (that’s zootalk for ‘baby Echidna’ to you and me). Its name is Beau and it was found in a caravan park on the central coast. Presumably not on a surfing holiday, given Beau’s tender age.

Beau the Puggle

Although, Beau might have been relishing an early taste of freedom – in what seems to me like a pretty severe form of grounding, adult female Echidnas generally “stash their young in a burrow from about 50 days old”, according to experts from the Zoo. And they don’t let them out for months. Although, they do home deliver food to their puggles, so that’s a plus.

Feeding time at the zoo.

And while we won’t know whether it’s Mr Beau or Miss Beau for some months yet, we do know that young Beau has a healthy appetite – according to the Zoo, “Beau resembles a mini vacuum cleaner, going back and forth making sure every drop of milk is sucked up – contributing to its ever growing belly”. You go, Beau.

Oh, Beau

So, there you go. A little story about Beau – from a trailer park on the central coast to a prime harbourside pad in Sydney, without the constraints of gender or hair. Good luck to you, pretty puggle.

You can check out more photos and videos of Beau on the Taronga Zoo website here.

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The honeymoon is over…

It is with sadness that I report on the separation of Bibi and Poldi. I didn’t know who they were either, until I saw their story on the news and went searching for more info. Bibi and Poldi are two giant tortoises, living at an Austrian zoo – they are both 115 years old and apparently grew up together in Switzerland before becoming “an item”.

But their love has recently soured and they are no longer able to share a cage. The keepers noticed that all was not well when Bibi (Mrs Tortoise) started attacking Poldi (Mr Tortoise) – BITING OFF PART OF HIS SHELL. And then she kept attacking him until the zoo officials moved Poldi out of the marital cage.

I know that no one ever really knows what goes on between a couple (sometimes not even the two people actually in that couple), but I’m curious to know what ticked Bibi off enough to attack her hubby and bite off part of his shell. Especially since the shell must have been pretty tough to get through. Although, according to the Austrian Times, “each of the 100 kilo animals has the ability to kill the other if they wanted.” So, when you look at it that way, Poldi actually got away lightly.

According to The Daily Telegraph (source of the photo), the boss of the zoo, Helga Happ, said, “For no reason that anyone can discover, they seem to have fallen out. They just can’t stand each other”. But maybe they just need a break – after all, 115 years is quite a long time…even for a giant tortoise. And according to Wikipedia, there are giant tortoises who have lived to the ripe old age of 176, 188 and even 255 (a giant tortoise in India). So maybe it’s a mid-life crisis for Bibi and she’s on the lookout for a younger tortoise to accompany her in her final century. You go, girlfriend.

You can read the article in The Daily Telegraph here. And the Wikipedia entry here.

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