From the Zou and into the Zoo

Living in Melbourne has taught me a thing or two about living with crazy animals.

On my first day here I saw a type of water fowl with a waddle and blue design on its head. It was about the size of a turkey minus the tail feathers, or maybe more like a large rooster.

It didn’t get any less weird from there.

There is an array of birds that live outside my window. This would be nice if I had a bird feeder and these were typical Missouri songbirds. They’re not. The most prominent and infuriating is the raven. I hate that thing. It sounds like one of the child’s toys that you tip from one side to the other and it makes a sliding wheeep whooop noise.

Then there are the cockatoos. Yeah, that’s right. Those crazy mohawk birds you’ve seen at the pet shop? They live here. Wild. Just walking along the ground or hopping through branches. Together they are loud.

At about dusk, there is a large ruckus that can be heard from the trees that sounds like parrot chirping (not really sqwaking) these are rainbow lorikeets. If you’ve been to the Kansas City Zoo, you can walk into an aviary and someone will hand you a plastic shot cup of nectar and you will get about 20 of these lovely birds to land on you.

I also work in the Wildlife Sanctuary on campus, which has allowed me to get a lot closer to some animals I wouldn’t otherwise see. Possums here are what I like to call lemur squirrels because they’re adorable compared to our possums back home. They’re only out at night and I’ve been able to see a few through the sanctuary. Sugar gliders are wild here, too. You’re not even allowed to own them as pets here.

There are also grey kangaroos, emus, frogs (those are about the same as back home, actually) and echidnas (which I haven’t seen yet).

I saw fairy penguins on Philip Island as they waddled in for the night to their cozy homes. There was also a crazy large goose-looking creature on Philip Island.

I had strongly held the belief that megafauna had yet to die out here in Australia, but then I went to Melbourne Museum and the Zoo and saw a couple of the tiniest birds I’ve ever seen. Like, if you cut a song bird in half, you’d get these.

IMG_4359

I’m a big fan of Zoos– I’ve been to some of the great ones in the U.S.: San Diego, Washington D.C., Omaha. This one was a bit small for my liking. The enclosures seemed a bit on the littler side, and I don’t think I’ve never seen anything that I saw there.

But going there did let me think about one thing: I can be and function and travel on my own. I don’t need to experience things with other people, even though that is sometimes nice. I am capable of being my own person on my own and I am capable of catching a bus and a tram and walking without assistance. I can order food and joke with the cashier. I can ask little kids questions in response to their questions as they look at animals they’ve never seen. I can also bite my tongue when adults tell their children that meerkats are “small cats.”

Though that was a tough one.

It is, in fact, a small mongoose.

It is, in fact, a small mongoose.

You can see more of my zoo pictures here.

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