Since our last trip to Australia, Ruth & I have seen a few unusual animals. We saw 2 of them at the Irwin’s zoo north of Brisbane in mid-May, 2018. Steve Irwin’s children take their role as zookeepers seriously and stress their role as preservers of endangered species as opposed to confiners of animals. Their Australia Zoo on the Sunshine Coast one hour north of Brisbane by car is worth the journey, but we took the train to Beerwah where a shuttle took Ruth and me to their zoo where we saw at least 2 endangered species.
The first was a cluster of red pandas. These small animals with bear-like bodies are not pandas that mostly live in the Himalayas where they hang in forest trees to avoid predators. They are endangered. Some can be found in southwest China. Their name derives from the Nepali word “ponga”. To the people of Nepal, this word means a bamboo or plant eating animal. Red pandas were fascinating to watch.
The other rare animal we really paid attention to at the Australia Zoo was the ring-tailed lemur. We saw them about 3 pm because their keepers let them roam freely at this time, and Ruth & I suddenly found ourselves surrounded by them on an ordinary path. Most lemur families are native to the island of Madagascar. The lemur is a vocal primate, but the ones we saw made no noises. One of their calls sounds like a cat meowing. They are said to communicate visually, but I saw no evidence of this as they scampered about. They mostly ignored our presence.
About 7 months later we were on a river heading toward Tortuguero National Park in Costa Rica when we saw a plumed basilisk on the riverbank. These Central American native lizard-like creatures are not to be handled. They bite with jaws that make it impossible for their victim to free him or herself. If you fight, the basilisk clamps down even harder.
I saw the colorful crab just above a couple of months before that in the Copalita Ecological Park & Ruins near Huatulco, Mexico. Ruth was not along on this walk because she chose another tour. My guide on this walk of the ruins was Anna. She was a proud, lively 67-year-old native Oaxacan who did not or could not identify this land crab, but she gave us her recipe for ant soup instead. I tried to find out what it was later but failed. However, I found my photo of it on a Copalita website.
The final animal of much interest we saw recently was a lobster named Lord Stanley. He resides in the new aquarium in St. Louis at Union Station and was a gift to this excellent tourist attraction when the St. Lous Blues won the Stanley for the first and only time, so far, in 2019. All lobsters are solitary animals and blue ones are rare. One in 2 million lobsters are naturally blue. Lord Stanley likes to hide out in dark crevices because his vivid color attracts predators.