I had a day off today so that I could meet up with my old National Youth Choir of Great Britain friend, and former flatmate, Jonny Coore and family in Edinburgh.
Around 10:00 we set off (in the rain) to Edinburgh (in the rain) to visit Edinburgh Zoo (in the rain). But what a great day (in the rain).
The first time I visited Edinburgh zoo I was in primary 3, so probably about 6 or 7 years old. The last time I visited was for a funeral tea for a former member of the zoological society. So this was my third visit.
I already knew quite a bit about zoos because I’ve listened to The Mighty Boosh on the radio. Unfortunately, Edinburgh zoo is disappointingly not like Bob Fossil’s Funworld, so I did feel a little out of my depth as it turned out.
First up we saw the sea lions (not seals, those are different) which I explained to Reuben and Joshua look a bit like cats (cos they’ve got whiskers) that live in the sea.
Next up: flamingos. I explained to Reuben and Joshua that flamingos are a bit like pink cats, who stand on one leg. After an introductory talk by someone from the zoo’s education centre he invited questions from the public. Jonny had a question: what do they taste like?
Further up the hill we passed what I thought was an emu. I ignored the ‘emu’, he used to scare me with his pink windmill nonsense. Emus aren’t like cats.
The next talk we heard was about lemurs which I explained to Reuben and Joshua looked a bit like cats.
Reuben and Joshua don’t have a very wide experience of animals so I was trying to relate these new, exotic animals to something they do know about.
Before heading to the picnic area we saw a Malaysia sun bear. My Mum used to have a bear in Malaysia. No word of a lie. I think she called him Joey.
We then had lunch.
It’s nice that there’s a section of the zoo set aside for people to bring their own picnics. It reminds me of a restaurant I visited recently that had a section set aside for diners to leave their pets.
The highlight of lunch had to be that Jonny ate a Club biscuit. The lowlight was discovering that 500 ml bottles of Coca Cola cost £1.30 at the zoo.
Thundercats and a revelation
After lunch we climbed the hill to discover the giant cats: a leopard, a tiger, a jaguar, another one that I can’t remember, and another one that I couldn’t see.
I couldn’t think of an animal that Reuben and Joshua know about to compare the leopard, tiger and jaguar to.
I also learned at that point to run a zoo all you need really is a very large estate and cages with photographs of animals on them.
If the accompanying text also informs visitors that this particular animal is quite shy which explains why you might not catch sight of them then you don’t even have to go to what must be the troubling expense of actually buying the animals.
So Jonny, his son and I started to think about the kind of zoo that we could realistically open. It contained cages with — amongst other things — plasma TVs, paperclips, a chest of drawers and sticks.
We went to look for lions but found gibbons. The rain started to pour down so the gibbons took refuge in a custom-built cave-like shelter. We took shelter under a custom-built shelter-like shelter. And then for a moment I wondered if it was us who was sheltering so that we could watch the gibbons, or whether the gibbons were sheltering so that they could watch us.
I then remembered that we had chocolate biscuits in my rucksack and forgot all about the gibbons.
Penguins and monkeys
We trotted down the hill again towards the penguins enclosure for the Penguin Parade. The parade didn’t happen, for some reason, but we did watch a few small penguins feeding. They eat fish.
The monkey house provided more shelter from the rain and plenty of entertainment. Did you know that monkeys … actually, I didn’t learn anything new about monkeys because I spent most of my time in there trying to prevent Reuben from poking a baby in a pram. Or stealing my glasses.
And that was our visit to the zoo today. Tomorrow I go back to work.