I went to Linton Zoo (see also their useless official site) today. In fact, as a whole, the day was a bit of a disaster, firstly because I forgot to recharge the battery in my camera and then because I managed to destroy the front wheel of my bike when I hit something going downhill on the way home, leaving me to pay an exorbitant taxi fare in order to get back to civilisation, thence to await another bill from bicycle repair man. Such is life.
The zoo was a bit depressing, which I almost predicted. (I'm not, by the way, making any comment on the conservation work they do.) Now, as we know, anthropomorphising animals is Bad and Wrong, which means that I oughtn't to place any interpretation on the actions of the panther which was, every ten seconds, pacing up and down the length of its tiny cage. I thought it looked pretty pissed off, myself. The happiest-looking animal was a very fat tabby cat which wandered around amongst the visitors; this surprised me, on the basis that for a cat in a zoo, all of the animals in its vicinity must fall into one of two categories: `things I am absolutely forbidden to eat', and `things which will eat me if I get too close'. Perhaps -- dangers of anthropomorphisation again -- cats don't react to stress the way we do. That said, there were pigeons in the tiger enclosure, and they didn't look too worried, so perhaps the mog had nothing to fear.
Other details... well, the tortoises had a larger enclosure than the leopards, which all looked very forlorn; for the tortoises, at least it would take the best part of quarter of an hour to get from one side to the other. A tortoise can live for more than a century (they were described as `mature at 25' which is a lot better than many PhD students), but I don't know how long its memory is. (Ooh, people again! Now, where have I seen those before?)
There was a snowy owl which had been sponsored by a girl guides' group; you can probably guess that the unfortunate creature had been christened Hedwig.
More creditably, a Cambridge cat society had sponsored a Siberian lynx, which was a rather pretty looking animal.
And they had cotton-top tamarins, which are pretty cool and look to me as if they'd be the perfect addition to any office environment (assuming -- I've lost all credibility here so I'll anthropomorphise away whatever -- that they are as mischievous as they look); here's a photo from before my camera batteries ran out.
Did you know that emus are (a) damn big, and (b) make a noise which sounds like somebody beating a drum inside their throats? (Well, I suppose that if you knew anything about emus you would; I didn't.) A few moments with Google suggests that this noise is a `gorble', but I'm not sure I'd rate the source (search for `emu' on this page) as the most reliable....
And, apparently, it is illegal to feed live mice to snakes. Presumably herpetologists must know this stuff; I guess they need to.