Creatures in the Snow

December 21, 2009

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A while ago we won a pair of entry tickets to Cotswold Wildlife Park, so we decided to make use of them today. We go there quite regularly with the girls but never before in the deep mid-winter! As we arrived it was starting to snow.

Miss Fleet and Rothmans were both wrapped up warm, and Cotswold Wildlife Park in the snow turns out to be a rather splendid experience (not least as we discovered that entry was free today (although a charitable donation was encouraged) and so we will be able to use our free tickets in the summer). The park was very quiet, and after a splendid lunch of sausage and chips for Mrs F and I and Fish and chips for the girls we got to look at the various creatures against the pretty landscape of the park, very lightly dusted with snow. Rothmans is a particular fan of the Rhinos, while Miss Fleet loves the Humboldt Penguins, two of whom are pictured above enjoying an affectionate interlude!

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The park is compact enough that the girls were able to see most of the interesting creatures before they got too cold, and an enjoyable visit was had by all, especially Rothmans who purchased a Rhino of her own (below). The trip home was interesting as the snow really started to come down having apparently caught Oxfordshire County Council by surprise (as ever) and the trusty Audi A6 was slithering around everywhere by the time we got there.

I always heartily recommend Cotswold Wildlife Park – ever since my childhood in the ’70s it’s been a great day out!

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James Kirkup versus the Pandas

September 22, 2009

James Kirkup (day job – Political correspondent at the Telegraph), responding to the remarks of Spring Watch irritant Chris Packham, puts the boot into the Giant Panda on his blog here

“Thank you Chris Packham, thank you. Thank you for saying something I’ve been trying to persuade people of for years. Pandas are pointless, wasteful and silly. They should die.

Let’s look at the facts here. A lot of conservationists argue that pandas are the victims of man’s actions, that urbanisation and industrialisation is killing the precious bamboo they need to live.

Eh? Bamboo? They are bears, but they eat leaves. Hello, excuse me? Panda bear. Bear. You know, large, aggressive carnivore. Big teeth, claws. Grrrr. You’re supposed to eat meat. What on earth is with the bamboo thing? A panda’s digestive system is still set up to digest meat. The reason they can only eat only one of the hundreds of different types of bamboo the world has to offer is that their guts aren’t supposed to break down bamboo. It’s elevating fussiness to the level of suicide. It’s like me eating only car tyres and gravel and then asking for sympathy when I starve to death. Idiots.

As for industrialisation and all that, well, hey, it doesn’t seem to bother other animals. I don’t see foxes complaining about cities. Rats seem able to cope with cities rather well. Countless other species seem to be able to deal with a changing world without going bleating to the WWF. This is evolution: adapt or die. Being cute and fluffy doesn’t give you any special rights, fatso.

Then there’s sex. Pandas don’t like sex. All that weird, zoo-keeper stuff about putting two of them in a cage and seeing if they’ll mate. Honestly, an animal either wants to perpetuate its genes or it doesn’t. And the idiot-bears clearly have some species-wide death-wish. Who are we to stand in their way? I thought the whole conservationism thing was about allowing nature to follow its own course without human interference?
Pandas don’t work. Let them go.

Incidentally, keeping each of the 150-odd pandas currently in captivity costs around £1.5 million a year. How many of our own species could we feed and house for that? We should turn the podgy oxygen-thieves out on their stupid furry ears and see how long they last on the streets with the foxes.

Actually, that would be a waste. After all, there must be some good eating on a panda. These are 300-lb grass-fed animals raised in organic conditions with exquisite care. At the very least it’s got to be worth a try. Panda steak, anyone?”

He’s got a point, though, hasn’t he!



Dudley Zoo

June 14, 2009

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A Lemur

We’ve been to Dudley Zoo today to celebrate the birthday of the daughter of one of Mrs Fleet’s oldest friends. It was a lovely afternoon – the kids got to meet and touch a rat, a guinea pig and a rather super little lizard, had their faces painted and had a nice tea, and then we wandered around the zoo for an hour or so.

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A Hungry Giraffe

I haven’t been to Dudley Zoo before. It’s compact in size and features some wonderful, but in many cases sadly deteriorating art deco architecture, in particular some lovely little refreshment stands and great swooping arcs of concrete around some of the animal pens. The animals themselves have nice and appropriately sized enclosures to live in, but many of the buildings look like they could do with some investment.

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Decaying art deco concrete of the Bear Ravine

All in all, though, it’s a charming zoo situated in the grounds of the motte and bailey Dudley Castle, and made for a nice day out. The weather was great, too.

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Flamingo

There is an interesting article for the Twentieth Century Society by Ben Flatman (dating from 2004) on the architecture of the zoo here… sadly the Lubetkin/Tecton pavilions, 12 of which are listed (although criminally none at Grade 1) and which Ove Arup worked on, appear to have deteriorated still further in the intervening 5 years. It’s heartbreaking to see such remarkable art deco works allowed to rot away like this, particularly given the current interest in the modernist movement.