austin_dern (austin_dern) wrote,
austin_dern
austin_dern

The birds and the beasts were there

I decided to go to the zoo. I found my old film camera, but all the film I had warned that it should be developed by December 2004, irritating me since there were three unused rolls plus the one three-fourths used in the camera. Anyway, I set out without it, since the batteries had died and I didn't have replacements or want to buy them. I expected the animals to be particularly cute because of that, and they were.

The zoo had its Lunar New Year exhibitions up. Just as last year, the naked mole rats filled in for Rat (they don't have rats that they admit to); the golden pheasant stood in for Rooster. And I love the sign for ox: ``Read About Your Fortune At The Cow Exhibit.'' The fortune for Rat -- my symbol -- is hard to take comfort in; it predicts an ``inauspicious year'', with ``physical injury'' and ``financial loss''; particularly I should be wary of ``con artists, especially the lady in red.''

The otters, in their new enclosure, were not in the water at all; instead they were attacking various bamboo trees, pouncing branches and gobbling leaves. When a species turns grazing into an active sport you know it's got too much energy overall. The binturongs, still sharing the otters' pad, dangled their heads down from their boxes. A camel was chewing contentedly until it noticed me watching; it looked at me and stopped chewing. I took the hint and moved on. The meerkat standing sentry clearly knew it was a cushy position here in the zoo; he was just sort of sitting in the knothole of a log on top of the mound.

There was one ringtailed lemur, licking her fingers, who had a little streak of red on her forehead. I couldn't tell if it was a string, or a dead ant, or what. The prairie dogs -- which are making a comeback -- apparently hadn't been wound up, since they just stayed motionless all the time I watched. The kangaroo exhibit is still being renovated, but I could see they had more plants and grasses, and a new walkway fence, and the kangaroos and wallabies were back in there and nudging zookeepers.

The raccoons were doing their usual sorts of things, though without the usual crowd of onlookers they get. There were a few passing people, several of whom said, ``I love raccoons.'' They had a new toy, too, a ball on a long string, that none of them were paying attention to. One slipped into the water and raccoon-paddled around the rim, then turned around and started paddling back, from an angle that would have been perfect for me to photograph if I had my camera. Another raccoon slipped into the water and paddled afterwards, catching up to the first raccoon only after they'd swum back around the enclosure. Then the second caught up to the first, on the shore, and they swatted at one another, hiss-cackled, and went their separate ways.

Trivia: The stars making up the constellation Libra were in an early Chinese solar zodiac the Crocodile or the Dragon. Source: Star Names: Their Lore and Meaning, Richard Hinckley Allen.

Currently Reading: The Sun Saboteurs, Damon Knight. The tiny slices of humanity living on other species' worlds living in the decades after Earth destroyed itself in war, and the zealot with the grand plan for the 2,000 or so humans in one Quarter to conquer the rest of the galaxy.

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