Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Visit to Chester zoo

I'd been looking on the Internet for a zoo that was a member of WAZA (World Association of Zoos and Aquariums). Members of WAZA are obliged to comply with its Code of Ethics and Animal Welfare. Chester zoo is a WAZA member and is involved in a number of conservation projects. Chester is also an important scientific research facility and the biggest research training ground for zoo-based studies in the UK. Animals benefit from advances made in areas such as environmental enrichment, welfare and conservation.
The animal I most wanted to see was the great hornbill (Buceros bicornis), a hole-nesting bird of the forests of Asia. Chester had one, according to their website, and so on Easter Monday we set off for the zoo.
There were several animals that I was especially interested in, including giraffes, black rhinos, Bactrian camels and, of course, the great hornbill. As it turned out, there were a couple of these and several other species of hornbill too... hornbill heaven :)
The giraffes were particularly interesting, especially when they ran; the movements of their hind legs made them appear to run in slow-motion! Bizarre.
On the other hand, some animals were more elusive in their 'environments' and for several species, including tiger, jaguar, zebra, Andean condor, etc, it reminded me of Jurassic Park where the visitors questioned if there really were any animals at all as the tour vehicles kept passing seemingly empty paddocks. I've no doubts, however, that if I'd stayed long enough I'd have seen them all.
Oh, don't get too close to the fence around the Asiatic lion. It charged at one boy and then decided to reinforce its territorial marker by spraying through the chainlinks! All in all it was a good day. Edinburgh zoo may be the next one on the list.

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