Sunday, May 3, 2015


By Wednesday, at work, I was like, "Eff this!"

I decided to skip off work the next day and go to the zoo.

Toronto has a fantastic zoo.  However, I do not visit frequently because it's way the heck out in the middle of nowhere.  For a non-driver like me, it's reeeeeaaaaaaally inconveniently located.

The zoo website offers transit instructions, but they're confusing.  It's kind of like, if it's before Labour Day, and it's the third Thursday of the month, and the moon is 1/4 waxing, take the eleventeen  X bus, then get off at the corner of Not Even Close to the Zoo and Wherever and transfer to the square root of negative one bus (just make sure it's not short-turning at pi).

I did my best.  I thought I could catch an 86A bus from the train station close to my house.  The schedule online said that I could.  When I got to the station, the "next bus in x minutes" monitor said that I could.  But in fact the only buses there were 86 buses.  The driver said I would have to transfer to an 86A down the line.  So I did.  I got on, sat on the bus for a long time, until the far station, and transferred to the 86A.  Then I sat on the 86A forever.

Just when I was about to ask the driver "Are we there yet?", the 86A got short-turned and became an 86S.  I had to get off again and chase down another 86A when it was stopped at a red light.  Then I sat on that 86A forever.

When I was beginning to believe that we would never get there, that third bus reached the end of its line and dropped me off at the transfer point to the actual Zoo Bus!  And the Zoo Bus showed up and in just another few minutes I was AT THE ZOO!

With happy turtles:

And a hungry giraffe:

This is the baby giraffe.  She's only 18 months old.  (Click on the photo to see her better.)

The cheetah was on the prowl.  (Note how far along spring has progressed in Toronto, i.e. not very far; all the trees are still bare.)

That pale thing on a rock that looks like a discarded banana peel is a lion all flaked out in the sun, napping.  (Click for bigger.)

This is a tur.  

This is a lazy snow leopard, curled up against the plexiglass of its enclosure.

Red panda, pacing determinedly:

It was super-great to get away from work and have a stroll outside with all the animals.  There were dozens more, but I don't like to take photos through bars or mesh, so I skipped the tigers, for example.

The best part was meeting the keeper in the giraffe house.  (Despite it being a warm day, the giraffes were indoors because their outdoor pavilion was being improved.)  I learned that giraffes are not very smart.  When they were first introduced to the new giraffe house with the savanna mural, they tried to browse leaves from the painted trees.  The baby likes to eat applesauce and peanut butter out of the feeding station; that's what she's doing in the photo above.  The plastic ball is hollow and contains nommy treats.  The momma giraffe's favourite snack is a whole raw onion.  She must have killer breath.

At 4 o'clock I went back to the bus stop and rode the bus (just one this time) forever again to get home.  But it was worth it.


Jenny Woolf said...

Sounds like a lovely day out. I suspect in years to come you will remember it - it's the kind of special "out of the rut" event that sticks in the mind even though it is only a few hours. The red panda is amazing, I do not think I have ever seen one. I laughed at your comments about the giraffe. I had not realised they were quite so dim.

Jenski said...

What a great idea to get some animal time instead of people time.

Ginny said...

I'm loving these photos. I wish I could pet all of them but I don't think I'd make it out alive.

Like Jenny, I was cracking up about the giraffes trying to eat the painted leaves.

Warped Mind of Ron said...

They should have a hotline that you can call and then send a cheetah to pick people up. I mean a cheetah is totally fast so they could do it in no time at all.

PhilipH said...

Stolen fruit is the sweetest, as is stolen pleasures and time at the zoo it seems.

What is this life, if full of care, we have no time to stand and stare ... at lions and tigers and bears, or anything that we wish to.

The bus journey sounds full of angst and anxiety. Take a taxi might have been worth the extra moolah?

You are pretty nifty with the camera! Great shots.

DarcKnyt said...

Another fun photo essay. You're really good at those, Spark!

...and, on a side note, I'll never stop hearing Dustin Hoffman whenever I see a Red Panda. NEVER.

Lynn said...

I suppose if I took mass transit to the Atlanta zoo, it would take forever like that. Nice excursion!

LOVE the giraffes.

G. B. Miller said...

Aminals! I loves aminals!

Great way to relax.

Father Nature's Corner

Snowbrush said...

I'm surprised the giraffes recognized leaves on a mural, the mural being 2-D. Since cats and dogs can't see themselves in a mirror, I didn't think that giraffes would recognize leaves in a mural, so I'm not sure how to take it intelligence-wise.

Sparkling Red said...

Jenny: I showed my zoo pictures to a bunch of people at work, and most of them were also unfamiliar with the red panda. I have a couple of friends who are a bit obsessed with obscure, cute animals, which is how I know about the red panda (and the fennec fox, the quokka, the capybara, etc.)

Jenski: Sometimes I wish I could just work at the zoo, and that the zoo would have no people in it except me.

Ginny: Yeah, the giraffes are awesome. I think we could pat them and live to tell the tale.

Ron: Sure, right. The cheetah would bring you to the zoo. IN ITS STOMACH.

Philip: A taxi to the zoo would have cost around $100, so not really worth it to a penny-pincher like me.

DarcKnyt: I have no idea what the connection is between Dustin Hoffman and red pandas, but I will take it on your good authority that there is one.

Lynn: I wonder if the giraffes in Atlanta also love onions, or if that preference is particular to Twigga (the Toronto momma giraffe).

G.B. It was very relaxaficating.

Snowbrush: I think there are essential differences in the vision of predator vs. prey animals, so perhaps that would go some way to explaining why giraffes see differently than cats and dogs.

Snowbrush said...

“I think there are essential differences in the vision of predator vs. prey animals, so perhaps that would go some way to explaining why giraffes see differently than cats and dogs.”

I know that prey animals more often have vision that take in a wider scope due to the positioning of the eyes, but I’ve no doubt that dogs and cats can see what is before them in a mirror. They simply don’t recognize it, maybe because it’s two-dimensional.

Vanessa T said...

What a fun day! Once you got there. That bus system sounds crazy, and aggravating.

Awesome photo essay, Spark, as always!

I'm a fan of red pandas now, after Kung Fu Panda. I HIGHLY recommend the movie. You see it's animated and may think it's just a kids' movie, but I assure you - grown-ups will love it even more than the kids will. Plus, I had a .gif of a red panda freaking out that just sends me into giggle fits every time I see it. :D