Yesterday’s trip to the London Zoo yielded many surprises. I was hoping to see a Lemur, my favourite type of animal which features so heavily in my Mousehunter School Talks, and I did. I saw a Ring-tailed Lemur, and as with all the Madagascan Lemurs it’s under threat in the wild – even if it’s not in as dire a predicament as some of the others, such as the Black-and-White Ruffed Lemur.
But of more excitement to me were the unexpected creatures I came upon. Sloths proved to be wonderful, and I had the joy of watching one have a scratch. Then there were the Loris, which came as a complete surprise. I hadn’t realised that they’d look so human-like in their body shape. They were really something else.
And when you add all that to the Giant Anteaters, the Meerkats, the Vultures (who were keenly disecting mice/rats when I saw them) and, best of all, the performing Otters, it was a brilliant day out.
I’ve had reservations about visiting zoos in the past, but London Zoo gets it right in so many ways. Its emphasis is on conservation and while it obviously has some crowd-pleasers amongst its collection, it also focuses on many species that might otherwise get overlooked.
Something that particularly interests me is its EDGE programme. EDGE is uniquely concerned with the creatures that have few close relatives on the Tree of Life. These creatures are usually incredibly rare and very endangered, but they’re also the most peculiar and wonderful of all the species. If you don’t believe me, check out the Short-beaked Echidna.
So go to London Zoo. Yes, there are animals are in cages, but it’s not what you might expect. You might even be pleasantly surprised. And as an institution, it’s doing excellent work in research to keep many endangered species alive, both in captivity and in the wild.