helen-louise (baratron) wrote,

Canada: Toronto Zoo and dinner with BC & Siobhan

On Fri 29th June, we went to Toronto Zoo during the daytime then out for dinner with bcholmes & the_siobhan in the evening. Getting to the Zoo involved taking the subway as far east as it goes, then changing to a bus and taking that as far as it went - so it's about an hour from downtown Toronto. However, I do heartily recommend the trip. As the kind of vegan who feels we don't have a right to exploit animals, I sometimes feel weird about visiting zoos. It feels particularly bad when the animals in the zoo live in cramped conditions and seem to be there solely to amuse people. However, at Toronto Zoo, the animals all seemed to be very well looked-after, with large enclosures and things for them to play with (there were three separate areas for the more intelligent apes, so they didn't go into the same place every day and get bored). And with some of the animals, such as the polar bear, it almost seemed like we were there to keep him amused. He really played up to the crowd and loved the attention. A fair number of the animals we saw were not actually resident - a lot of wild animals and birds come into the Zoo during the day and leave again. These included chipmunks, deer and black squirrels, as well as some birds that Richard tried to take photos of but failed.

The temperature during the day was around 29 ºC, so we thought it would be a lovely warm day to walk around. We discovered the problem with this once we started looking at the furry Canadian mammals and found they were all asleep, or at least dozing - zonked out in the heat. Oops.

I was most interested in the Canadian domain, as the animals there are all creatures I'm not used to seeing in zoos. European zoos focus mainly on Africa, Asia, Australasia, Madagascar and the tropics. This is probably the effect of colonialism, though I wonder to what extent it's political. (Do European zoos not bother to take North American endangered species for breeding and conservation projects because they think there are enough zoos in NorAm to do that for them?). It does strike me as odd that today was the first time I've ever seen a live beaver, grizzly bear, moose or chipmunk, considering how commonplace these animals are on this continent. We have North American reptiles in Europe - many serpentariums have rattlesnakes, and the larger ones have alligators; various insects and arachnids turn up in "Creepy caves"-type exhibits; perhaps some of the fish in our aquariums; but absolutely none of the mammals. Except llamas, which are now farmed in multiple parts of the UK along with indigenous species, so I'm not sure they count.

(Almost) Complete List of animals we saw at Toronto Zoo:
1 cougar (sleeping)
2 lynx (sleeping, cuddled round each other)
3 musk ox (feeding)
3 Arctic wolves (sleeping)
4 wood bison (feeding)
2 moose (feeding)
2 grizzly bears (adult sleeping, young bear eating
1 polar bear (swimming)
2 pygmy marmosets (grooming)
1 prehensile-tailed porcupine (sleeping in a tree)
1 tiger rat snake (snaking on a tree)
1 Pacific octopus (swimming)
1 sloth (sleeping)
3 marmosets (playing and jumping on the sloth)
1 boa constrictor (dozing)
2 Midland painted turtles (swimming too fast to be photographed)
4(?) Grassland whiptail lesbian lizards (they reproduce by parthenogenesis) (running too fast to be photographed)
1 eyelash viper (just snaking around)
1 common snapping turtle (swimming)
1 Eastern spiny softshell turtle (swimming too fast to be photographed)
1 American chuckwalla (lizarding around)
2 Cuvier's smooth-fronted caiman (pretending to be asleep)
3 American alligators (pretending to be asleep)
1 alligator snapping turtle (swimming)
1 Pacific rattlesnake (dozing)
2 West African dwarf crocodiles (pretending to be asleep)
4 Sumatran tigers (playing)
400+ Lake Malawi cichlids (swimming)
1 slender-tailed meercat (peering)
1 reticulated python (dozing)
1 green water dragon (dozing)

[*] I was trying to take photos of the otter for otterylexa - again, I've seen European, American and Asian short-clawed otters in the UK, but never an African spotted-necked otter. But the otter had enough energy to power most of the rest of the zoo put together, and wouldn't stay still for more than a second at a time. After all my photos came out blurred I gave the camera to Richard & told him to use the "running" mode, but he decided it would focus on the glass of the otter's pool and be no use, so tried to take the photos in normal mode - meaning we have eight photos showing a mostly-brown streak across the water.

All my Toronto Zoo photos - now annotated properly.

After getting back from the zoo we went for dinner with BC & Siobhan in a Chinese restaurant they favour. Once again we were overwhelmed by North American portion sizes - I had enough beancurd & nuts for 2 hungry or 3 not so hungry people. And the prices were insanely low. Quite often, we would find ourselves with twice or even three times as much food as we'd get at home for a smaller number price than we'd pay at home. (And considering that CAN $ are roughly 2 to every 1 UK £, this was even sillier.) I've heard it said that London is the most expensive city in Europe, and second most expensive city in the world, but honestly! It's not even as if Richard & I go to expensive restaurants! (Generally, we frequent small Chinese places where the majority of other diners are of similar ethnic origin to the food. This is not so true of our favourite Indian restaurants, which tend to do "British Indian" food.)

BC & Siobhan were both friendly & pleased to see us. Siobhan in particular was looking really well. We talked about mutual friends & politics, then went for a wander, window-shopping, and looking inside in any interesting shops that were open. I bought a copy of Eco Fluxx, a variant of Fluxx that has Goals such as Photosynthesis (Plants + The Sun). Finally, we got the tram back to the hostel we were staying in.
Tags: canada, north america, travel

  • Not here any more

    The new Terms of Service for livejournal wants to regulate certain types of political content which have been deemed inappropriate for children by…

  • BiFest

    Apparently there is a BiFest on Saturday 8th April, approximately 10 minutes walk from my house. This is so very close that I really have no excuse…

  • New-to-me doctors never understand me

    Today I experienced the joy which is seeing a doctor who doesn't know me. Apparently my usual GP is on holiday somewhere warm, lucky woman. So I was…

  • Post a new comment


    Anonymous comments are disabled in this journal

    default userpic

    Your reply will be screened

    Your IP address will be recorded