Not so snap happy

It’s been a while since my last visit. Perhaps you’ve been looking for me…

Perhaps you’re tired waiting…

Oh please forgive me…

You’ll think about it…

Oh I see… what if I bring you a bucket of fish 😉

Sincere apologies once again to my fellow bloggers… I will be by to see you soon. I really do want to catch up with everyone. I’ve also got some special video footage I want to share too.

Today’s photo location was Edinburgh Zoo and it’s been a while. After a picnic lunch (just out of the showers of rain) the sun came out and my daughter and her friend went a-wandering.

A-wandering too went I with camera in hand… although I was not so snap happy as I have been with recent garden visits.

I cannot deny the incredibly valuable conservation work that zoos and wildlife parks do in bringing species back from near or certain extinction. However, I’m still not completely comfortable seeing the animals in their enclosures… as nice as many are now too with sizable space and lots of interest. I suspect I am not alone there. I can see that the animals are well looked after but it’s just the whole locked up thing.

Yes, today I was able to see otters (Chinese I think), Koala’s, Diana monkeys to name but a few. Granted, it isn’t the same as seeing them in the wild but equally I cannot deny that being able to see these animals, reptiles and birds for real rather than just through books and television screens makes their plight for survival so much more real too.

The zoo was very busy on our visit today. Many crowded around the enclosure of Mercedes the Polar Bear. I decided not to go near as I didn’t want to see her.

Edinburgh Zoo say: Mercedes’ keepers provide the highest possible standards of care and whilst her enclosure is adequate to meet her needs, public perception has always been that they would like to see her in a larger enclosure. I’d tend to agree with that.

So, it is with great pleasure that I’d like to promote the Centenary Appeal at Edinburgh Zoo:

“This year we would like to re-house Mercedes in a brand new £300,000 home at the Highland Wildlife Park where we will create the largest polar bear enclosure in Europe. Mercedes new home will feature a large natural pool set in over four acres of land, which is typical of the polar bear’s tundra environment.” I do like the sound of that. It has made me smile 🙂

Moving on from a tundra environment to the garden environment… yep even on a zoo visit I find myself looking out for ideas for the garden. Sad I may be, but this isn’t the first time I’ve photographed practical structures at the zoo. Today, once again, fencing caught my eye…

To quickly redeem myself I’ll end with a pretty pic for the weekend. A bee on a bottle brush flower… not quite in focus with the wind blowing the plant about but I loved the colour and the moment.

Wishing you a bright and colourful weekend… be it in the garden or out and about 😀

All photos above were taken by me at Edinburgh Zoo on July 30th 2009.

20 thoughts on “Not so snap happy

  1. An entertaining read Shirl. The captions with the photos are great. The conditions for zoo animals have certainly improved over the years. I can still visualise all the concrete and small cages I used to see at London Zoo some 50 years ago.

  2. I am of a similar opinion to you… Although the conservation work is very important – certainly for some species I can't help but feel sad for the animals. And as a result I generally don't go to zoos anymore.

    I'm surprised to hear they're trying to move a Polarbear to the Highland Wildlife park to be honest, and I guess they must have far more land than I initially thought because from my memories of it, the drive around the park pretty much takes you everywhere… I'm also curious just how a Polarbear fits in to the Highaldn Wildlife part… ha ha.
    Mind they do also have bison and wild horses. Hmmmmm 😀

    Lovely photos Shirl, I love the Otter, they are so cute! Were they the Asian short-clawed otters? They're the type usually found in zoos.

  3. I'm with you, Shirl, speaking on behalf of wild creatures – now living in small enclosures in zoos.

    Like you, although I appreciate what the zoos are doing to try to re-introduce wild creatures to their natural environment, I still have reservations about the tiny enclosures in which they have to live…and the very idea of the 'big cats' being caged, or birds being kept in an aviary is anathema to everything I believe in.

    Being one of my special friends, who follows my blog and goes to the trouble of making valuable comments about everything I believe in and hold dear…you will understand that if I'm chicken-hearted about killing snails…I am enraged about the freedom that wild creatures forfeit when taken from their homes and kept in confinement for our pleasure…rant over!However, I will support their conservation efforts 🙂

    On a happier note, though I am very familiar with Kew Gardens, I have never been to Parley Hill Garden, the Falkirk Wheel or Kinross House…and your excellent, informative and picturesque posts make me feel I amm missing something with all three choices. I have now pencilled these in for future visits 🙂

    I always love your videos and the rainy day in your garden was also excellent; as was the one of the swallows waiting to be fed; and the clarity and proximity of the bee on the cirsium 🙂

    Your garden in bloom had the fantastic cornucopia of delights we have all come to expect from you, Shirl 🙂

    Always a pleasure to visit and catch up again 🙂

  4. Hi Shirl

    Great to hear that you had a good time at the zoo. Although it's great to see the animals so closely, I completely agree that they don't have nearly enough room to move around properly. Good to hear that the polar bear will have a larger enclosure soon.

    Great photos of the animals too, you really captured those otters well. That fencing would look great in a garden. Zoos like that are often very well presented. Great photo of the bee btw. I attempted to take some more bee photos yesterday, with a little more success this time 🙂

  5. Hi again Joe, thanks yes we did. Space clearly is an issue at most zoos so I was thrilled to see the plan for the new polar bear enclosure.

    I have to say that Edinburgh (like other zoos perhaps) is doing a great job with many of the new enclosures where there are walkways above the animals with lower viewing windows for young children. I like these ones as you aren’t looking at the animals through bars or mesh wire and it is more like you are observing them as you walk by.

    I was impressed with all the changes Edinburgh has been making. They seem to have found more room for many animals somehow. Thanks, zoo animals are particularly tricky as they react to people walking by. That otter was the only one that came out after the rain and appeared to be calling although I seemed to catch every shot with its mouth closed.

    Thanks, looking forward to seeing your latest bee shots 😀

  6. Hi again John, Glad you enjoyed it. Funnily enough I didn’t plan to write it like that but when I began cropping and selecting the order of the photos it just evolved 😉

    Gosh yes… in the last five years I have seen great changes for the better. 50 years ago it must have been so very different. I do love the way Edinburgh has designed their new enclosures I must say. Although as a charity funds for such projects are always an issue.

    Now I have a question for you… can you remember the entrance fee for the last time you visited a zoo? We had an annual membership at Edin for a number of years, when my daughters were young, so it is always a blow to pay for a single visit!

    The current adult price for Edin is £14 with a child being £9.50. Visitors are also politely asked if they would like to add a donation to that. The zoo was packed on our visit and I cannot imagine what the takings must be for an average day in the summer! Although, they must cost a lot to run too 😮

  7. Hi again Liz, Yes, I’d guess you’d feel the same. After seeing the efforts with new enclosures at Edin I am heartened a little and feel a little more comfortable with my visits. I can see why you don’t visit zoos. I guess I associate zoo visits with my daughters and only go with them.

    Ah… to the Highlands for the Polar bear… I guess it has the cooler temps there 😉 LOL… yes, I do believe they have a large area of land up there and this will not be the first animal from Edin to be re-housed there. LOL again… yes the concept of Bison up there is a weird one…. We’ve done that tour too. Hmmmm… indeed 😀

    Thanks, they were pretty quick shots as it was busy. I do have a feeling from memory that these were some sort of Chinese otters.

  8. Hi again Wildlife Gardener, once again I would have guessed you’d feel the same. I have to say many enclosures are increasing in size at Edinburgh and I guess other zoos are seeing changes too. However, zoos will only ever have a certain area of land to work with if they are in cities. It’s the caged thing that I don’t like too.

    You’re allowed to rant here 🙂

    I am delighted that you may consider visiting the gardens I have posted on and to the Falkirk wheel too. I should say that perhaps this would be the year to see Kinross House Gardens as since my posting I have discovered that it is up for sale… price tag… a cool five million pounds I understand. Some land must go with that I’d expect!

    I am delighted to hear that you still enjoy my videos and I’ve a few more that I am desperate to edit. Time is not on my side at the moment… but we’re all set for some birthday celebrations over the weekend… an 80th!

    Ah… I loved the cirsium with the bee too… great to look back on during cold winter months. I enjoy my blog for that and often browse around back posts myself 😉

    It is always a pleasure to have you visit. You are always especially generous with your comments and I thank you for that. I will be by to catch up with Barleycorn… after the weekend I suspect 😀

  9. Interesting post Shirl. Zoos are such a juxtaposition. One enjoys seeing the animals but hates to have them "jailed". Some are better off since they were once pets or injured and have lost their ability to live in the wild. It is wonderful that zoos now try to have decent enclosures for the animals. Nice photos no matter.

  10. Your blog is nice and the pictures of the animals are great and the sayings to the pictures too, I liked it 🙂

    Sue's Daily Photography

  11. Dear Shirl – please dont' worry about not doing much on the blogging front recently – to be honest neither have I!! I miss not seeing what other people are posting about too. It's been so busy recently and I find that there are only so many things you can fit into 24 hrs! Great to see your hedgehog pics in the last posting you did – think at last we have a regular woodland visitor too 🙂 Take care and will be in touch Miranda x

  12. Lovely photos. I feel the same about polar bears in a zoo – I remember seeing one poor soul in Bristol Zoo many years ago, pacing from side to side.

    Our local zoo is Chester, which I visit relatively regularly, but tend to hurry past the elephants 🙁 But, as you say, they do an awful lot of fantastic conservation work, fnded by the people who visit the zoos.

  13. Sorry Shirl I keep forgetting to follow up your question. I can't remember how much my last visit cost as it was some time ago with 30+ 11yr olds and there were party rates.
    14 pounds each can sound a lot but when you think of the costs of maintaining a zoo – feed, vets fees, third party insurance, wages, etc.. it probably just keeps them ticking over. Like many visitor attractions they will take most of their income in the Summer months which has to keep them going through the dismal weather times when there are few visitors.

  14. A delightful read with lovely photos Shirl, but as you might expect zoos don't sit too easily with me either, it is amazing how well some of them are run nowadays though and of course the conservation aspect is an important point. I do hope Mercedes gets a new and larger enclosure, I'm sure she deserves it, I take it she has no company?

    I loved the bee on the Bottle Brush, so colourful. Have a great week, I hope the sun shines for you, there isn't much here!

    BTW. Would it be rude of me to ask if your daughter passed her recent driving test? Just ignore me if you prefer 🙂

  15. I think since Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust opened its zoo – with its focus first and foremost on conservation, the study of endangered animals, and the establishment of breeding colonies so that they can be returned to the wild (the idea that this could also be a visitor attraction coming a very poor second, though it is a wonderful place to visit too), other zoos have gradually changed as well, at least in the UK. It would be brilliant if one day they could all be like DWCT and put the animals' welfare above the visitors, but as you've said, it's a balancing act for them raising enough funding for their conservation work, and without this work some of the animals would now be extinct, so … I think this type of zoo is worth supporting.

  16. Hi again Juliet, I agree. I can only comment on Edinburgh over the years and I have seen continued (some significant) improvements to enclosures.

    Visitors can now also appreciate research through current studies that the zoo is involved with. This enclosure was fascinating with a considerable amount of outside open space for the animals to use. Yes, I agree that zoos are worth supporting and without our support the animals would never see improvements to their conditions, enclosures and their quality of life.

    All that apart, I still didn't enjoy taking photos on my visit. However, I throughly enjoyed seeing the volume of visitors that were swarming around the zoo on my visit. Clearly the zoo is getting good financial support during the summer hols 😀

  17. Hi again Lisa – I agree, the decent enclosures make such a difference to the animals and the visitors. The more visitors that come in turn finance the decent enclosures.

    With the exception of the penguins theses pics were not taken through bars so that made a huge difference to me taking them. Thanks, glad you liked them 😀

  18. Hi again Patsi and Susanne 🙂

    Patsi – They really are! Thank-you, glad you enjoyed it. I hoped it didn’t come over too heavy as that wasn’t my intention. Oh… interesting to hear that you’ve just bought this type of fencing. If I had the right place for it I’d be tempted too 😀

    Susanne – Thank-you, glad you enjoyed the pic/text mix. I really hadn’t intended writing it this way. I cropped them one day and when I came back to writing I saw I could have a little fun with them 😀

  19. Hi again Miranda, Happy, John and Jan 🙂

    Miranda – Thank-you, I’m so glad I’m not the only one that feels this 🙂 Ah… wonderful to hear you have a regular hog visitor… thanks, I loved these hedgehog pics. Wishing you all the best 😀

    Happy – Thank-you, these quick captures opened up a chance for some quirky narration. Yes, there is just something about the bears isn’t there? Ah… Chester Zoo I do have fond memories of visiting a couple of times on holiday when my daughters were toddlers. From memory it is quite an open Zoo with fairly good sized enclosures. Edinburgh only has a statue of an elephant as you enter the Zoo. Yes, our visits do really make a difference 😀

    John – No probs… I’m not always able to answer comments as quickly as I’d like myself. Ah yes… party rates are bonus for encouraging group visits. Oh yes… I agree the £14 won’t go a long way in the upkeep of a zoo. It is hefty on the purse though for non holiday visitors. I do think the annual memberships help. We had a few when my daughters were younger which we used a lot through dismal weather outside the summer months 😀

    Jan – Thank-you, yes once a gain I might have guessed that. Yes, they do seem to run as a full business these days with conservation being a very high priority. Fund raising seems to be going well for Mercedes as they are half way there! She is alone and I’m not sure if they will give her any company. I believe they are quite solitary animals. Thanks, I loved the colour in the bee photo too… perfect cheer for the weekend. No, I don’t mind you asking about my daughter’s driving test. She is a sound driver normally but nerves got the better of her so she’s preparing for a re-sit before going back to Uni 🙂

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