November 28th, 2005

krazy koati

The old mongoose gets good and loose

We started late for the zoo, because I slept in, and lunch took longer than we expected, and we got to watching The Price is Right clips. They can be strangely compelling considering how many of them are based on refrigerator doors not closing. Also a minor obstacle was my camera, which a few days ago drained a battery completely, and since then it's had some weird modes lodged in its head, like thinking I want to default to the viewfinder instead of the LCD screen. The weight of the adaptor, polarizing filter, and wide-angle lens threw me off, too, but clearly I just need practice with it.

But we got it on, and started viewing the Zoo from a wide angle. I didn't realize how long it'd been since I last looked at the mousedeer. There were many little changes, like animal-print trim on the trash cans, but the big one was moving the otter exhibit nearly to the zoo entrance. They moved the binturongs with them. If it seems to you that the vaguely Gilliganesque new home doesn't seem to have otters, well, they're there, just hiding. There's also a section dug into the ground, with plexiglass panel showing the world underwater, and dozens of human cubs running around jumping in the way of any good pictures of diving otters. I got a few above water, and one either eating or practicing eating. Information panels described how well-adapted they are to otting, or how they mark territory by rubbing rocks, or how trash confuses them. That was accompanied by a picture of one otter holding a bit of fish, with question marks floating over his head; and another holding a popped balloon, with valentine hearts over his head. And then there was this otter, who just wanted to sleep, or pose for Livejournal user icons, who kept getting bugged by the other otters.

Most other completed renovations were updating information panels rather than moving animals around, so the Malayan sun bears were stylish as usual; the maned wolves kept fooling people into thinking they were foxes; and we got a perfectly posed shot from a meerkat. But between the late start and trying to get the otters just right, we were very late, and didn't even get into the lemur enclosure -- it was locked tight by the time we got there. Similarly the lights were off in the squirrel and prairie dog and ocelot house. While we had enough light to see the raccoons, my camera's weird problems kept it from taking decent pictures in dim light. I need to find the manual, since it was acted like this years ago, before I got everything set up right.

Ultimately we spent nearly an hour past the posted closing time, and remarkably didn't get chased out. We got to the kangaroo walk-in enclosure right around sunset when the kangaroos are allegedly awake (I mostly see them melted in the sun), but that exhibit turned out to be gone, with the kangaroos removed and the whole thing being torn up for renovation into an Australian Outback exhibit. Pity, that.

Trivia: One person received a Distinguished Service Medal, eight received Exceptional Scientific Achievement Awards, and 15 received Exceptional Service Medals for work on Pioneer 10. Source: Pioneer Odyssey, Revised Edition, Richard O Fimmel, William Swindell, Eric Burgess. NASA SP-349/396.

Currently Reading: Explorers of the Infinite, Sam Moskowitz.