We do have a very small local zoo as you may already know. We also have a big and quite famous zoo in Stuttgart, the town where I work and where we used to live for five years. I have blogged about it before, it's the Wilhelma, a mixture of botanical and zoological garden.
Still we like to see other zoos as well. Often friends don't understand us. They wonder why we don't care for the nightlife, why we don't visit more museums, drive around or flop down on some beach to get baked in the sun. Let them wonder :-)
We had picked the last day of our stay for the zoo. We thought Monday might be a good day for it.
When our taxi arrived (none of us was able at that moment to deal with the hassles of a bus schedule), it had started raining already. The receptionist sounded worried about our day, the taxi driver asked where we were going and shook his head gravely. Really the tall guy hadn't been too sure, either. He had watched the weather forecast on TV, but I said I didn't care. There would be houses you could go into and it would be ok. Of course I was right. The rain stopped exactly the moment we got out at Edinburgh Zoo.
The first fellow to greet us was this elephant. The only elephant in the zoo, by the way. That is one thing I liked a lot. It didn't seem like they just had the typical collection of the usual suspects. No elephant, no giraffe, no big apes as far as I could see except for the chimpanzees at Budongo Trail that we didn't see because of the crowds of children which was probably a terrible shame as it is the largest chimpanzee enclosure in the world.
Here we also got a first glimpse at Mansion House. The building has a restaurant inside and the other wing is occupied by the Zoological Society. Mmh, I would to love a house like that in the middle of the zoo!
Almost the first enclosure we came to was the one with the African wild dogs. I am a big fan of them and have been ever since I read the book by Jane Goodall and her first husband Hugo van Lawick when I was still a child. Unfortunately they were no fan of mine and were not to be seen at first. After a while I spotted them hiding at the other end, probably they hadn't liked the rain very much.
Some others were not too happy with the rain although it was already over, like me when I tried to take a picture of the dikdiks and some birds that could have been kingfishers. Raindrops were hanging in the fine mesh of the cage, making all pictures blurry.
It was also impossible to take a good picture of the large group of penguins. I would have loved to show you how a keeper tried to convince a group of king penguins to have a fish. She offered it to every single one, but no chance, they refused. All the while behind her a desperate penguin of another kind tried to get to that fish and when she left, he followed her until he had to face the cruel fact he wasn't going to get it.
Unfortunately we missed the daily penguin walk and we also don't know if we got to see the VIP penguin, Sir Nils Olav. We just couldn't tell them from each other, sorry.
Nevertheless I got my penguin photo ;-) This guy has a lot of little friends!
Up to now we had not thought about where the zoo was situated. Does the word "hill" ring a bell? Yes, we started climbing uphill again, by the rhino enclosure where we only saw the keeper mucking out. It's ok, we always have rhinos at Stuttgart, but never before had I seen pudus. They were a little shocked when their keeper "threw" them out of their cage, it was wet out there!
I also couldn't resist this turkey. Many say it's ugly, but look at the beautiful colors! It's hard if not impossible for me not to see something beautiful in all creatures, no matter how many legs they have (yes, even spiders and do you remember Bruno, the swimming slug?)
Until then we had not really seen very many people and let me tell you ahead I heard nothing but English that day. It seemed as if quite a few people had taken their kids to the zoo, but that was it. No foreign tourists, except for us. We felt very special ;-) Now when we came to the wild cats there were more people and we pointed out to each other where they were hiding, were showing each other the spots from where you get the best pictures, it was a really nice atmosphere (except for the guy in the green shirt who managed to walk by the glass every time I had a chance to catch the Amur leopard - I have no picture of him now that I could show, the only ones that were not all blurry showed green reflections, but I guess I can't have everything). I almost got the black panther. Almost ... The jaguar didn't do me the favor of holding still, either. Maybe I am just too slow?
Here is the tiger and here is a cat I hadn't heard of before, a Pallas cat. The girl was hiding so well, I didn't see her, but the guy was doing us the favor of showing us his beautiful face. By the way, his intense look we owe to a nice, plump pigeon that sat on the roof.
Now we went up to see the Asian lions. Here we made a big mistake. We climbed up the hill that clearly led us to the lions with these footprints (there were also prints of plants on the ground, it looked really neat). We didn't see the lions in their big enclosure and around the corner it looked like it was the end of the way, so we turned around. Mistake, keep it in mind.
We had a good look at the European wolves, great animals! No pictures, sorry, but I didn't like the way it looked with the mesh. From time to time I had to take a picture of a flower instead. Maybe I was still inspired from the day before.
It rained a little again, just a tiny drizzle, but I loved the effect of the drops on this flower. At the same time it was so hot that the ground started steaming. I hoped for a rainbow, but I wasn't lucky.
Next was the zebra and antilope enclosure. Look at that space! From a wooden bridge going out into the enclosure ending in a hut we could see the town.
From there we walked to Hillpoint View, the highest point in the zoo. We were sitting there looking at the reindeer when the safari bus arrived. What do you mean, you could get a ride up there without having to walk?? I wish that had that in Stuttgart, whenever I have made it to the polar bears, I am dead.
The reindeer enjoyed the sun, there was also a baby hiding underneath a bush and refusing to come out for me to take a good photo.
When we walked down the hill, we noticed a sign that pointed to the lions and the maned wolves. Huh? How could we miss them? I have only seen one once at the Wilhelma, they seem to avoid me. We found out we shouldn't have turned around when we thought it was the end of the way. We just had to walk around the corner.
It is hard to choose pictures of the maned wolves, I have quite a few and even two short videos. Aren't they gorgeous? I have no idea how young the cubs were, they definitely looked younger and smaller than the big ones, but not at all like babies, more like silly teenagers. They were playing and hunting (mice?) and seemed to have fun.
Meet Mercedes now, the polar bear. When we first saw here, she was in her crate. We didn't know why, but we were told (just follow the link) she would go to a big wildlife park as soon as possible. When we passed her by a second time, she had fun playing with a branch.
We just got to the Scottish wildcat in time for listening to its keeper and his daily talk. He told us the cat was in a "food coma" and it really looked like it. This is the best my macro could do.
Also sleeping was this guy. The outside enclosure had been closed down, so he and his friends had to stay inside and dream of better days. They are the only koalas in the whole UK. I had never seen a koala in a zoo before.
I think it was then we decided to have a little snack. Sandwiches. I was getting tired of sandwiches, but we didn't want to waste much time.
That's what Mansion House looks from the front. I couldn't find a place where they would take my application to move in :-(
After being fed we started to make our way back. I'll make it shorter for you now as I don't want to lose you before you have seen these fellows. We met Ellen and her two month old baby girl ...
... gibbons in love ...
... many more flowers ...
... a crazy bunch of lemurs that held a conference ...
... and the sea lions ...
... and yes, we also went to the gift shop, what did you expect??
I am sorry if I missed to talk about one or the other animal, like the goral, the flamingoes, the red river hogs or the eagles or the tapirs, the baboon in the tree and many more I'm sure. I want to make clear I enjoyed seeing them just as much as the ones shown here. I am still disappointed I couldn't see the bush baby, another one of my favorites :-(
When we came back to the hotel, we rested our feet for a little while and then it was already time to meet Taz from my cat forum. I had really been looking forward to that. We decided to stay at the hotel and eat there and I think I am safe to say we had a fabulous time. It was the perfect ending to a great vacation because the next day we would return to Germany. Much too early really and with the feeling there was so much more to see, but we didn't think about it that evening. Enjoy the moment, right?
Back at the room I still didn't feel tired and while the tall guy was dreaming along, I finished another pendant with a smaller fossilized coral, for me this time. I don't even have a picture of it, but I think you get the idea.
Thanks for making it through this long post with me, I promise the one tomorrow will be shorter. Why I'll have one at all if it was only travelling back? Wait and see ;-)