20 Mar
Days adrift.  Click here to see our best and worst experiences so far.
Number of flights.  Click here to go to the itinerary page.
Bus, train and taxi rides.  Click here to see all posts relating to transport. (56 posts)
Miles walked.  Click here to see all posts relating to walking and trekking. (43 posts)
Countries visited.  Click here to see what we think of them. (14 posts)
Number of species spotted.  Click here to go to our wildlife page.
Photos taken.  Click here to go to the photo gallery. (90 posts)
Rainy days.  Click here to find posts relating to the weather. (49 posts)
Number of times scammed.  Click here to read all about it!  (2 posts)
Otters spotted.  Click here to go to our website about otters: amblonyx.com
...two travellers in search of the world's wildlife

15 May 2011

Waltzing to the zoo

9th May 2011

Today we went to the zoo. We like visiting zoos and yet it’s something we haven’t done yet this year, probably feeling that we’re already doing “proper” wildlife watching and so zoos play second-fiddle. I was lured in by Giant Pandas, which I’ve never even seen at a zoo and certainly not in the wild. We recently read the blog of someone who went to look for wild pandas (planning our next year’s itinerary maybe) and it seems to involve crashing through dense undergrowth in freezing cold Chinese forests and then returning to a freezing cold lodge every night. The pandas were beautiful and peaceful, and strangely anthropomorphic in the way they were sitting on their bums with their legs out in front of them like a toddler to eat their bamboo supper and apparently smiling with contentment.

Adelaide Zoo was also a great opportunity to reflect on what we have and haven’t seen on our trip around the world. It’s very satisfying to wander past the enclosures saying “hello lion, saw you in the Kruger”, “hi koalas, saw you in Victoria”, “g’day meerkats, spotted you in the Karoo.” Just sticking to the mammals, we’d probably seen half those on show at Adelaide Zoo in their natural environment.

There was a Red Panda there too, to remind us of our unsuccessful hunt in the Himalayas. I’ve a strong suspicion that Red Pandas have pretty much disappeared from the main hiking circuits, and it’s another animal that probably needs an expedition to faraway China to see for sure.

We also watched a pair of Oriental Small-clawed Otters at play for a long while. After exchanging some emails and photos with Grace at the IOSF and WChinner from Malaysia who spotted our blog, it turns out that the otters we saw on Langkawi were Smooth-coated Otters after all. So our only definite sighting of the small-clawed otter was a ten second glimpse at Hala Bala between looking for hairy-nosed otters. I can’t treat mammal watching as a tick-box exercise, so we’re definitely going to have to come back to South-East Asia and hunt properly for the small-clawed otter.

In the Australia section there were Bilbies that we missed in the far west, and Potoroos that we didn’t see on Tasmania. There were Hairy-nosed Wombats as well, which we stopped to look for yesterday afternoon on our way south from Flinders but failed to see. We’re going to go out again tomorrow morning for another go – the place is a good ninety minutes drive from Adelaide, so we’ll have to get up early.

And just to prove that the wildlife watching never stops, as we crossed the bridge over the River Torrens which flows right through the middle of Adelaide but still looks like a country brook, we spotted movement in the water that didn’t look duck-like. It wasn’t, it was the Australian Water Rat, a critter much bigger than a normal rat who lives in the water and catches crayfish for his supper.

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