more London Zoo

The London Zoo is heavy on birds, a smart move for a place with little space. One walk-through aviary has a little pond with ducks, and also has Hammerkops (Scopus umbretta).

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Weird birds, note the crossed-over tips of the beak! Also, they build huge nests:Zoo_L_28

Oh, the ducks…..Zoo_L_29

White-faced Whistling Duck (Dendrocygna viduata), labelled as White-faces Tree Ducks. And Marbled Teals, but I didn’t get a good photo of them. It was rather dark and rainy in the morning. London in winter. But I got one of the Comb Duck (Sarkidiornis melanotos). Theropod weirdness is without end.

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They also have Blue-bellied Rollers (Coracias cyanogaster) in there, a pretty bird but that’s all there is to say about it.

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The aviary is nicely done, with a good wide path, thus suitable for strollers and wheel chairs. One thing, though, struck me as decidedly odd: both the entrance and exit gates open inwards. That basically invites people to walk in the wrong way, which on sunny summer days will surely lead to congestion.

This aviary, the komodo dragons, and the fighting birds (link, link) was all that I managed to see before my two companions for the visit showed up. And even on these few stations the London Zoo managed to piss me off. Next to the vultures they have this sign:

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The text is obviously written for children, or for adults who have had a few too many at the pub last night. That’s OK – you don’t want to put up signs that many people won’t understand. But “vultures have feelings too”? Seriously?

What about using a header that’s not a cheap shot at sympathies, but actually has something to do with the topic? That doesn’t anthropomorphize the animals extremely?  And “nature’s Men in Black” – so vultures hide aliens? Fly around in spaceships? Kill cockroaches?

DUH! If you want to educate people about nature, don’t go making things worse by using examples, figures of speech and concepts that are prone to confuse and mislead. Especially not when you apparently aim at the lower half of the IQ and knowledge spread. AARGH!

Oh, and they did it again, even worse, at the Galapagos tortoise enclosure. There’s preciously little info provided, but a huge sign saying “they are so slow that it takes them 15 minutes to travel one meter” or something similar. or 5 minutes, or whatever – in any case that a) a stupid over-generalization, and b) plain wrong. I’ve seen them “go”, and that was at least ten time to speed given on that freakin’ sign.

From then on I tried to ignore signs as well as I could, and I enjoyed most of the zoo. Only at the very end, when we did a last-minute sprint through the aquarium (rather desolate, I am sorry to say – can someone please cough up some money to fix the place?), then I came across this:

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OK, London Zoo, welcome to the 1950s! You can use this title if you’re a photographer, but not if you are actually a zoological park. It is ridiculously stupid. Plankton = heros? Hello???? This really takes marking too far. Make it funny by adding a stupid cartoon and it is OK. But all this hollywoodification, this adaptation of Disney-style nature, where animals fill human roles in a society, is just plainly ridiculous, and in my experience creates more negative effects than positive.

I am sure the intent is good: to show how important plankton is for the marine food chain, for our climate, for biodiversity, etc. But by making the tiny organisms human the entire issue is turned into a soap opera. Finding Nemo led to gazillions of people buying clownfish, which in 99% of cases ended badly. And that was a VXF film! Now London Zoo of all places is promoting the same stuff, but much much worse. AARGH some more!

End of post, I need to go puke.

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About Heinrich Mallison

I'm a dinosaur biomech guy working at the Museum für Naturkunde Berlin.
This entry was posted in Aves, Dinopics, Dinosauria, Maniraptora, Theropoda, Travels, Zoos. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to more London Zoo

  1. dobermunk says:

    agree with the vultures text, it just sounds like condescending, uninspired copy.
    But ‘unsung heroes’ doesn’t hit me as anthropomorphizing as much as metaphoric praising.

    What’s with the beak on that Hammerkops? That’s pathologic, right?

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