Dartmoor Zoo, Sparkwell, Devon
I tried to systematically go through the zoo, it isn't very big and I read that a movie was made about it, called "We Bought a Zoo." though in the movie, the location was in California and it is really in Devon. The failing zoo was purchased by Benjamin Mee, his wife and mother. Mee's wife had recently been diagnosed with brain cancer and he wanted to raise his kids back in England. They were converting some barns in France but gave those up and sold a property in London as the zoo took far more money than the 150,000 they had pooled for a down payment. A couple of months after the purchase, his wife died when the tumor returned despite an additional two months of chemotherapy. The zoo had all kinds of problems financially, with the zookeepers feeding the animals out of their own pockets and they hadn't been paid for quite a while. Mee's first offer had been rejected but then he read that if the zoo wasn't purchased in 22 days all the animals would be put down. Mee had to make necesary repairs, get rid of the rat infestation (I spotted a big brown one yesterday when I was there) before the authorities would let him reopen the zoo to the public. He needs 60,000 visitors a year to break even.
The animals looked well cared for. Among the wallabys, there are three to four albino ones; one of the young zookeepers told me they have to make sure they don't get sunburned on their noses and ears. They need sunglasses. At first I thought it was a rabbit with short ears and a long tail or a big white rabbit. In a small zoo, the gene pool isn't that big so albinism may be a result. I liked walking around the zoo and seeing the animals, talking to them. They were nice enough to show themselves so I didn't have to go home without seeing them. The only animals I didn't see were the zebras.
The smallness of the gene pool especially among the big cats wasn't carefully regulated by the previous owner and it is doubtful that the cats like the Carpathian lynx will be able to reproduce even though they are 2 out of 2800 in the Carpathian mountains. In many regions in eastern Europe and Germany, the lynx is considered to be extinct.
This little racoon was so cute. Liz, I hope it doesn't look like the one you found a summer or two ago on my sidewalk. In grad school at Santa Barbara, I would go to the computer lab and work late at night (didn't have a laptop then) and I would see some racoons around 1 am but looking quite a bit more fierce with glowing yellow eyes and bared teeth. I stayed well away. That was my first year there when I lived in this little apartment in a four plex in Santa Barbara near the mission. The owner, an old guy, would come in and use my outlet for running his garden tols without knocking and I would be in my bathroom. OK, so it only happened once but I yelled at him. I only stayed there for the year but then put everything into storage and came back after a full summer of research in Turkey. I learned about the two blue and gold macaws in a cage, also in the walk through enclouse whch by the way, you have to be careful walking through as the non-zoo birds, those Canadian geese which are everywhere have Canadian poo everywhere. When I lived in Downingtown, you couldn't even walk without shoes in the backyard. Anyway, back to the macaws. The coloratiom on the larger one was so beautiful it reminded me of the lapis lazuli and the azurite blue pigments that we had just made the week before. Sadly, a gorgeous blue feather was in the cage and I was no where near enough or able to get it. He at least said bye bye to me a couple of times as I was leaving. The zookeeper said that he also uses "blue" language which is embarrassing with families about. I was kind of hoping for a little macaw cursing and didn't even think he would say anything after I said goodbye but he humored me.
The lower image of the really pretty blue and black frog - he looks more like our malachite green pigment here but he was a pretty bright blue - this is a poison dart frog from South America. Apparently, the brighter the color, the more toxic they are since their diet is based only on ants, termites and mites while the other frogs eat more varied things. I don't know why this would be true - they must eat some really toxic ants. Called poison dart frogs because the Indians of Central and South America used their toxic secretions to tip their arrows with though curare is more effective and is plant based. Either way, would not want either of these two charmers hopping into my sleeping bag (not that I would be camping in Africa or South America). I camped for those three days in the White desert of Egypt but I don't think
So enough animal planet for now, tomorrow I am planning to see the Cathedral, another Medieval one and check out their museum.