February 10th, 2005

krazy koati

From the brain that brought you the Big Ben Caper

So I thought I'd take in the Singapore Zoo's Lunar New Year festivities. While the Zoo was more crowded than I've ever seen it -- not surprising since I think the zoo and Sentosa Island are the only things open -- I'm glad I made it, if nothing else because I learned they're giving a seminar on wildlife photography on Saturday.

They were decorated for Chinese New Year, including trails for the Chinese zodiac. Most of these were extra panels by the depicted animals. They billed the komodo dragon as dragons, and African wild dogs as dogs -- fair enough -- but for rats they had nothing closer than Naked Mole Rats. As a rat by the Chinese mythology I was amused. Rufus would know what to say.

The panels explained things about the Chinese zodiac; I learned each animal has hours -- in the rat's case, 11 pm to 1 am, which, admittedly, is me all over. The order of animals was set by the Jade Emperor's race, and Rat came in first by riding Ox's back almost to the finish line, then hopping off and dashing ahead. Rat sabotaged the efforts of Cat and Elephant so they didn't even get into the race (thus their absence from the zodiac) -- Elephant by jumping in his ear canal and throwing him off his game; Cat by breaking his promise to wake Cat from his nap. Cat still hasn't forgiven Rat. Didn't know I had it in me.

They still don't have those raccoon-face binoculars, but have giant pandas and white tigers. They do have raccoon backpacks, and kids hugged these intently. The raccoons were jumpy; the kangaroos were melted in the sun again. They had a few rabbits but the rabbit exhibit is still closed for ``upgrading''. The lions and meerkats were nowhere to be seen. Probably off making a movie.

Trivia: Tin has been mined once in Singapore, along the Zoo's Mandai Road. Source: Street Names of Singapore, Dunlop Street.

Currently Reading: The Rocket Men: Vostok and Voskhod, the First Soviet Manned Spaceflights, Rex Hall and David J Shayler.