Monday, May 11, 2009

'A fine and fancy ramble to the zoo ...'

He thought a little and then said:

  `I have found the Zoological Gardens of service to many of my patients. I should prescribe for Mr Pontifex a course of the larger mammals. Don't let him think he is taking them medicinally ...'
-- Samuel Butler, The Way of All Flesh

Back in my days as an academic, my office doorway would be darkened now and then by a student at the end of his or her tether, stressed beyond endurance by -- most usually -- some combination of study pressures and personal life, complicated occasionally but more frequently as the 1990s wore on by a third source of strain, job pressure. Sometimes it would be even worse, some nightmare scenario involving an eating disorder or triggered memories of childhood sexual abuse or even mortal illness, and in those cases I'd send the students straight to counselling, but for common or garden mental exhaustion or depression or strain I'd send them, as per Samuel Butler's Mr Pontifex, to the Zoo.

I don't know how many of them went. Only one actually reported back to say she'd done what I suggested and it'd worked a treat, but, as so often in teaching, one was enough.

And I was thinking last week that I needed a break myself and that furthermore I'd not been to the zoo since I bought a digital camera, and then the orang-utan (see previous post) made her inventive bid for freedom yesterday

and rain was forecast for tomorrow, so I took the afternoon off to walk round Adelaide's beautiful zoo on a brief but glorious autumn afternoon.

Some of my fellow-creatures were just hanging around in the sun.

Some were relaxed;

others, not so much.

The hippo was sulking,

and the ring-tailed lemurs were showing off.

I don't know whether it was because I was planning a blog post as I strolled about taking pictures, but for some reason the zoo kept reminding me of the blogosphere.

Every time I go there, the Adelaide Zoo has improved yet again in this respect: there are now beautiful little settings, calming and welcoming, at almost every turn in every path.

On the walk back to the car I noticed a drama unfolding in the distance, as this picnicking couple on the riverbank remained oblivious to the fact that they were being staked out and stalked:

Even when the sneak thief was practically on top of them, they still remained unaware:

Sprung at last. I could almost hear the screams from the road.


Deborah said...

It was indeed a lovely late autumn afternoon in Adelaide today.

Alas, I spent it marking essays.

Kerryn Goldsworthy said...

I feel your pain!

Francis Xavier Holden said...

That picnic snaffler looks very much like the Evil Penguin from Wallace & Gromit in disguise.

tigtog said...

The picnickers needed a Jeeves on hand to deploy his patented swan-escaping strategy.

Beautiful shots, Pav. I too should wander around the zoo one of these crisp autumn days.

clarencegirl said...

A welcome post on a ho-hum morning.
P.S. Word verification for this comment was 'cated' :-)

Mindy said...

What a good idea. Must post the lovely bison photos from Dubbo Zoo.

lucy tartan said...

I'm so glad you took that photo of the explanatory sign about the poor young male with the headbutting injuries. It's going to come in useful.

captcha, unbelievably, says 'rantaloppe'.

Miles McClagan said...

I love Adelaide Zoo - I bought a red panda toy, and a kid with ADD stole my chips...fantastic!

genevieve said...

My son has cut his finger on a can, neglectfully left out by me, his BAD MOTHER.
Perhaps we should go to the zoo too instead of me sulking at home like that hippo. Love those lemurs.

the wordy gecko said...

Such an enjoyable post, I felt as if I had been there too!