Saturday, 7 June 2008

artis de partis

Marion had urged me to become an Artis Zoo member. She's a volunteer in the zoo and gives guided tours on Sundays. As usual, when a woman starts pestering me to do something, I give in at some point to keep the peace.

So off to Artis I went this morning. To get a membership card you have to queue at the membership card desk. All the other desks sell day passes. I was behind a family with four kids and they all needed membership cards. As is normal, you keep a bit of distance between yourself and the people at the desk to give them some privacy. At one point two girls just stood in front of me. I pointed out to them that a queue has a tail and that was where they should stand. "Oh, I thought you were with that family." When it was my turn 30 minutes later, the girls noticed that our queue was only for memberships and moved to another queue where they could buy day passes. Yes, they were blond.

Anyway, I parted with € 70 and got a plastic card with a barcode, a picture of an elephant and an extremely bad picture of yours truly. I also got an old copy of the Artis Magazine and an 'Artis de Partis' doll. I hadn't counted on having to walk through the zoo all day with a doll in my arms. At age 54 that looks a bit silly as well. Luckily I had brought my trusty old WW2 musette bag which doubles as my camera bag and Artis de Partis fitted almost completely in the bag.

artis de partis

I made a quick recce of the zoo and hurried to the 'Two Cheetas", the restaurant near the African savannah. It was getting near my lunch time and I hadn't had my daily shot of coffee yet. I lunched on a large coffee and a 'broodje gezond'. On the restaurant's terrace you have a good view of the savannah. Lots of zebras and gnus. I like the word gnu. It is a self-referencing geek word.

not unix

Around the corner from the savannah is birthday girl Tanja. She was 48 years old last week which is extremely old for a hippopotamus. In the wild they usually don't get over 40. She was vast asleep, floating in the water.

Tanja, 48 years old

The gorillas were in their outside pen. At first they were gathered at the far end of the enclosure where you can hardly see them but after a few minutes Akili the silverback male can towards me. He looked a bit sad, why I don't know.

silverback Akili

Two of his harem have given birth last year, Shindy and Binti. They showed up a few minutes after Akili had checked out the neighbourhood. They brought their babies along.

ladies with babies: Shindy, Binti, Shomari and Bwana

There are more photos of the gorillas on my Flickr page.

lazy moment

Polar bear Tania was playing in her inside swimming pool; biting the swinging traffic cone and bumping into the big floating ball. All of a sudden she jumped out of the water and ran outside. A moment later she came back inside again and I managed to catch her looking hungrily at me.

polar bear Tania

A group of three falconers was giving a demonstration of bird handling. They showed two owls and a vulture. Why they are called falconers I don't understand. Owlers and vulturers would be better job descriptions.

two cute birds

A strange noise was reverberating through the zoo: UUUUHHHNNNN… UUUUUHHHNNNN… UUUUHHHNNNN… A group of people was forming at the turtle enclosure and when I got nearer the noise got louder. Boy turtle had fallen in love with girl turtle. I never knew turtles could make such a loud noise! It was fun watching the parents with little children: "No, you tell the kids what they're doing!"

hump, grunt, hump, grunt…

At the vulture aviary one of the Griffon vultures was taking a bath. I know birds take bird baths, but one way or another I never realized that vultures would do the same! A lot of splashing followed after the vulture had waded into the water. A photo series of the whole bath ritual is on Flickr.

bird bath for the Griffon vulture

One of the coolest places in the zoo is the waterfall. The rocks are made of fibreglass but they look real. You walk into a cave, go past the waterfall and into another cave. It is nice and cool with all the water evaporating there. The photo is one that I HDR'ed to make it look more like real life.

cool water

At 17:30 I left the zoo as I was getting hungry and my feet started to protest even after two ibuprofen 400. I'd been walking around since 11:00. I took the side exit onto Plantage Middenlaan and walked to Beukenplein where I had very nice Penne Tonno at the Ferrara Italian restaurant. The owner, Firkit, always has a chat with me when I eat there. Today he joined me for a meal since he was hungry, too.

Firkit on the Ferrara terrace

If you wonder why I didn't sit on the Maxwell terrace? They had a big TV screen which could be seen and heard from the terrace with the European Cup Football blaring away. I hate football.

And Artis de Partis? When I got home the three year old girl next door gave Artis de Partis one look and went straight for him. I couldn't break her heart so he now lives with her. I told you I always give in to women pestering me.


Renate said...

next time the aquarium? I love that place! Haven't been there for a while, though. Needs to be corrected.

Nicole said...

...He looked a bit sad, why I don't know...

Because his life is a prison cell and he is stared at, belittled and pointed at by humans all day long, because he can't run through the rain forest, because he can't do what he was supposed to do and be free, because it's sad, pathetic and miserable to keep animals in cages, or that politically correct word they like to use, "enclosures".

(I wish I could have pestered you to forget about giving money to an institution that cages animals under the pretence that it's good for them and their breeding program. I have been to a zoo once and will never pay money to see or support such misery again.)

My comment is not supposed to make you feel bad about it. I know a lot of people enjoy the zoo, it's just that I do not.

On another note, Firkit is much younger than I envisioned.

Nicole said...

Sorry about the Zoo freak-out. I had just woken up and it was too early and I didn't mean to trash the zoo, I just get really upset at trapped animals.

Juf Jo said...

"As usual, when a woman starts pestering me to do something, I give in at some point to keep the peace."

I want a brand new super duper laptop for free...I want a brand new super duper laptop for free...I want a brand new super duper laptop for free...I want a brand new super duper laptop for free...I want a brand new super duper laptop for free...

I love the zoo but I havent been there for many many years.
Simply too expensive.
17,70 euros, thats 39 guilders in real money!!

Juf Jo said...

Oh and I hate football too, more then I hate just about anything else.
I wonder if they have football on tv in Cafe Krom... I daubt it, let's go and find out.

Danny said...

"Firkit" doesn't sound v Italian... but does the food taste it? That's more important, I suppose.

Kees said...

@Renate: I was in the aquarium as well, but didn't stay long; too crowded. Come along next time.

@Nicole: Zoos are changing from 'lets look at the monkeys in a tiny cage' to conservation labs where endangered species are preserved. Sometimes the breeding is so successful that the animals are put back into the wild in places where they had gone extinct. Zoos with small cages are more and more making place for zoos which have more 'natural' environments for the animals. It takes time to build this however. You can't just do it overnight. Artis is constrained by being in the city centre and by being 150 years old. They are changing, though.

@Juf Jo: It only works close up and personal... :-) But we could hit the Krom sometime later this week.

@Danny: He's a Dutch Turk, but the food tastes good. There are also some turkish dishes on the menu, some of which are very tasty, indeed.

Gerrit said...

Kees your blog becomes a must read, very enjoyable, but we must meet in RL again soon.
Nicole/Kees: I also don't like Zoo's, although they are becoming better. I still remember the look on a gorilla's face (in a small cage but that was way back in the mid 60's. I lied next to Artis for years and never visisted.

Kees said...

@Gerrit: read your email.

Marion said...

Well kees, Akili did not look sad. Being sad is a human emotion, and animals don't have 'human' emotions. Like Bokito did not even smile at this lady who got attacked. Animals don't smile, when a monkey or ape shows its theeth, is angry or scared.

But I fully understand. it's human nature to fill in animal behaviour with human emotions.

As it's also human nature the way Nicole was ranting about zoos. Its obviously she does not know half of what's going on in the animal kingdom, including in the zoos.

So, just for the record: Akili is born in a zoo, he's never ever been in a rainforrest. If he was, he migth not even be born. Nowadays not one animal is taken from the wild, not one. All animals are born and breed in the zoos, world wild. Meanwhile, humans are stil killing animals for fun, killing them and getting them extinct. Zoos bring back animals in the wild, whenever that is possible.

And yes some enclosures are small, and yes there is a lot to be improved, but like you said: it cannot be done overnight.

I'm glad I pestured you, because Artis is a great place to be. :D

Vincent said...

"and animals don't have 'human' emotions"

Well, we have a gala bird here and I think he can TALK to you about that ;-)

Oh, btw: the gala is not ours and we're not happy to see him spent his life behind bars.

Renate said...

@juf jo: agree it sounds a lot but compare it to going to the movies (€9-10 for 2 hours) or having a few pints in the pub, and maybe it sounds less then :-)

@kees: we will go, maybe on a rainy Wednesday, might be less crowded.

Just realised one thing: the annual pass used to give free entrance to quite a few European musea when I had one in the '90s, now only Edinburgh, Winchester and Kopenhagen seem left...

@marion: and before you ask why I stopped *grin*: they stopped automatically renewing it and I never made it to the gate for a new photograph. Must have been around 2000 for I have been to the new aquarium...

Juf Jo said...

But I never go to the movies and when I go to the pub handsome charming men buy my drinks ;)

PS Its also human nature to want to distance ourself from animals and thus use different words.
Animals may not thing about how bad life has treated them, but they sure can be depressed, scared, upset, yalous, etc.
My dogs dont smile when they are happy but their face sure looks very different when they are happy or upset, excited or bored.
Sometimes we call the same thing Intelligence when a human makes a decision and Instinct when a animal makes a decision.
Either way, I reckon we still know very little about how brains, thoughts and emotions work on animals and humans.

My sweet dogs can be evil sadistic biscuit thieves.
And I know for sure that when I am desperatly looking for my biscuit they are around the corner laughing at me and ploting their next horrible crime that will test my limits.
They are evil I tell you, they even sabotaged my internet cable when I wasnt looking.

Marion said...

@ Renate: well then maybe it's time I took you to the aquarium and show you how great it is. I have some free tickets so it won't cost ya :D Kees has his card so he can join us as well and I'll also have a ticket for your Mr. T and Danny. So.. lets make a 'Vikings-@-the-zoo-date' :D

Anonymous said...

'Vikings-@-the-zoo-date' - great idea !
I would love to come along - but driving from the "Ruhrpott" to Amsterdam will take me about 3-4 hours...
We do have a really nice nice dierentuin here as well ;-))


Juf Jo said...

If you are not going to be wearing your viking gear to Artis I am going to be very dissapointed!

Anonymous said...