As always, the only thing linking the two items mentioned in this post in my mind is that they both start with the same letter of the alphabet.
Examining a woodland critter
with two childhood friends
I guess this one is, after all, a predictable entry, given this blog’s title, but it’s really not just about lions (and big cats generally). Even when I was a little girl, I loved walking in the woods and observing animals in my immediate surroundings up, close and personal as much as I did visiting zoological gardens and watching “animal programs” on TV; and I still do — and when I’m traveling, I’ll always try to make time for visits to whatever local nature parks / reserves there are. One of my biggest as-yet unfulfilled wishes is to visit the famous parks and nature reserves of Africa … well, maybe one of these years I’ll make it there after all.
By the same token, I’m as infuriated and saddened by the death of animals at human hands as I am by human-on-human violence — not least because, even hunting for sports and even more egregious forms of cruelty towards animals aside, we’re on a fair way of pushing our cohabitants of this planet to the side more aggressively than we have ever done, not to mention surrounding them with a city- and landscape working according to rules for which nothing in their genetic and instinctive makeup can possibly have prepared them. And we’re all a bit poorer for every animal and every species that is gone forever.
So, by way of a celebration of our fellow creatures, here are a few of my encounters over the years!
(All photos mine — yes, the three last ones as well. 🙂 )
Deer (Knole, Kent, England and Mt. Robson Provincial Park, BC, Canada), bison and moose (both Yellowstone National Park, WY, USA), prairie dog, groundhog, chipmunk and grey squirrel (Yellowstone National Park, WY, USA; Carinthia, Austria; Banff, Alberta, Canada; and Grand Canyon National Park, AZ, USA), giant lizard, kookaburras and geese in flight (Fraser Island, Queensland; northern NSW state park, and Victoria coast, Australia), falconry demonstration: hawk (IIRC), eagle owl and gyrfalcon (Dunrobin Castle, Scotland), geese jaywalking in York (England), swan (Bibury, Cotswolds, England), storks (near Colmar, Alsace, France), seagulls (Falmouth, Cornwall; 17 Mile Drive, CA, USA and Catalina Island, CA, USA), pelican (Catalina Island, CA, USA), flamingos (Sea World, CA, USA), macaw (Antigua, Guatemala), starfish (Celestún, Yucatán, Mexico), seals (San Francisco harbor, CA, USA, and North Sea coast, Germany), whale watching (Boston, MA, USA), monarch butterfly (Adirondacks, NY, USA) … and a visit to Hamburg zoo: wild bee hotel, grizzly, polar bear, penguins, giraffe, pride of lionesses, leopard, tiger, orang utan, baboons (don’t the two older ones remind you of Statler and Waldorf?), Asian elephants … and — umm, what? Nothing to see here, just a couple of visitors from 60 million years ago and a mythical monster from Scotland!
Another one of the few posts where the “dislike” section is the negative side of the “like” section after all: I like virtually all forms of wildlife, including bees and most bugs, and I can even tolerate a bunch of other insects (though manifestly not mosquitos) — but I decidedly draw the line at wasps. They’re a pest drawn by everything that’s sweet, and if you’ve ever had a wasps’ nest in your backyard or on your balcony (I had), you know how thoroughly they can make your life a misery. Wasps are aggressive (their stingers remain intact if they sting someone, so there is no biological need for them to hold back), even if you don’t experience an allergic reaction their stings are considerably more painful than those of bees; and wasps are both predators and parasites: many kinds of wasps have bees or other kinds of nest-building insects breed their larvae for them — only to serve as food for the wasps’ progeny a short time later. Bees have to form huge protective balls to kill even a single wasp (essentially by exposing it to the heat of their bodies), and seen up, close and personal, wasp fights (or fights of wasps with other animals) is incredibly vicious. So wasps — nope. No way. Absolutely none. Just leave me alone and stay far away from me!