On Tuesday Carol cleared off with her sister to rummage around looking for some dusty documents at The National Archive so yours truly was left to amuse himself. It turned out to be a better day than advertized; no thundery showers ever appeared and, although quite windy, the sun shone more than not. So, out came the Mazda, down went his roof and into his boot went my camera, Even though we’re approaching Easter and rugrats could have been a problem, it seemed like a perfectly pleasant day for a bracing walk around Whipsnade to see if anyone would pose for some portraits.
First port of call was the oriental short-clawed otters. I’ve now noticed that they are actually labelled “small-clawed otters” but my old/bad habits die hard. whoever they are, they are usually good value. This day was no exception and, true to form, every time they heard an internal combustion engine they stood up on their hind legs expecting food to be delivered. Having failed last time, this time I managed to capture one doing an excellent Tommy Cooper impression, though “squeak” didn’t have quite the effect of “just like that”.
There was a kind of show and tell (clearly I’ve been watching too much American television) taking place at the elephant arena, actually billed as “ask the keeper”, I think. The Asian elephants seemed to be completely oblivious to the fact that much of the conversation revolved around elephant urine. Curious! Serves me right for joining a conversation half way through, I suppose.
Staying with the macro inmates, the greater one-horned rhino keeper was having a wonderful time spring-cleaning junior’s bedroom and junior had been locked out. These guys are the armour-plated heavyweights of the rhino world. Let’s face it, all rhinos are damned heavy but these are huge. Anyway, junior didn’t seem to like being locked out and kept wandering up and down the substantial iron bars, occasionally pawing them trying to get back in. Once, however, he or she (I’m utterly hopeless at sexing greater one-horned rhinos – and far too scared to attempt it) condescended to wander away from the bars so I could get a half-decent portrait. I simply cannot stand shots with bars and fences. Picky, picky!
Very unusually, the Pere David’s deer were being cooperative and showing themselves to their adoring pedestrian public. Quite often, they are really only easily seen from a car on the so-called “drive through Asia” route. The males (are they bucks or stags?) have significant wonderful velvety antlers that really must help develop their neck muscles. I imagine that the male with the finest set of antlers gets to give many more muscles some good exercise, too.
Finally, I couldn’t resist another portrait of one of the many Patagonian maras that roam free around the Whipsnade grounds. I remain amazed that none seem to have escaped into the Bedfordshire countryside.
If only I had not parked poor Mazzie under a tree, I wouldn’t have had to wash him when I returned home. Lesson for the future.