‘Do you have a guilt free bum?’
Well that’s getting a bit personal, I thought, until I read further: ‘You can help protect local wildlife. Make the switch to toilet paper made from recycled paper today!’
I’m at Melbourne Zoo, and I must say that zoos have really changed since my first zoo experience in the 1950s, when I used to visit the private zoo in the garden of the old Surfers Paradise Hotel. Highlights then were to visit the monkey cage and make them pull threatening faces (they also had a propensity to snatch glasses from unwitting viewers). Then there was a huge crocodile that I never saw move in any of my visits (there was not much room to move anyway). My other memory was the butterfly house that contained a beautiful display of hundreds of carefully catalogued butterflies. Unfortunately they were all dead.
Melbourne Zoo is something completely different. It’s more like a botanical garden with the animals situated discretely in themed enclosures.
Most popular are the gorillas with spectators eager to catch a glimpse of the baby gorilla, born in March this year. However, I found it hard to forget that the silverback, Otana, had more recently bashed another female gorilla to death in this same enclosure. Nature gives and takes away even in the ‘controlled’ zoo environment.
The lemurs are a more unusual exhibit and their enclosure reminded me of something from the computer game, Riven (Myst 2).
In the lion enclosure, three males were relaxing in the afternoon warmth on top of their hill, when a passenger jet flew low over their enclosure. Instantly they were roused and began to answer the roar of its jet engines with their own roars until the plane had passed into the distance, and they resumed their slumbers. Maybe they thought they’d found a soul mate!
Then came the butterfly house, but this time, I entered a huge cage with the butterflies flitting from tree to tree in all their living glory! However, for me, probably the most memorable exhibits were the toilet bowls placed not so discreetly around the zoo to remind me of my guilty bum. I slunk home, resolving to buy a roll of recycled toilet paper next time.