We went to the petting zoo to celebrate. Petting zoo? Hmm. It bills itself as a Wildlife Reserve but most of the animals are just wandering about waiting to be fed.
Animals I Petted Today, in order of petting
- Eel - not really a very pettable animal. Feels sort of like a sea cucumber, albeit one that might bite you at any moment. Also, they have freaky bright blue eyes! You could make a kickass horror movie about eels. Someone probably has.
Here are two little stories about eels. Once, when I was very small (well, smallish, maybe about 5-7) I was swimming in a river on our (country) property, and I was bitten by an eel! (Because I stood on its head.)
I don't know if you know this, but eels are like sharks in that not only are they vicious bastards, their teeth point inwards, so once they've bitten you it's really painful to get yourself unbitten again. See?
this is totally what happened.
The next day, all of the women who lived up the valley went eel hunting in the same spot of the river. We caught two and smoked them and that, my friends, is the law of the jungle.
Second eel story (also with picture:)
When my two uncles were relatively small (8-10?) they went eel fishing with Nana and Granddad. An eel was duly caught, and they decided to take a photograph of my Uncle Graeme (possibly Graham), who had caught it. Before they took the photo, they chopped off the head of the eel (why?) and due to some post-mortem eel reaction this is what happened:
proper spelling of 'uncle' too long
Of course everyone else in the hunting party thought this was freakin' hilarious and didn't help poor Uncle for ages. Also I think there is probably a photo somewhere of him being eeled.
Anyway, onto another animal! This is fun, isn't it.
- Deer - they were pretty cute! Looked just like deer are meant to look. They were shy at first, but eventually I lulled them into a feeling of security with such phrases as 'there there, deer' and 'oh, deer.' Then, when the deer were finally close enough to feed out of your hand, these motherfucking ducks that were everywhere came up
- Duck - I 'petted' it with my foot after the deer incident. Enough about ducks. I patted a goose too at some point but meh. I also threw some food to a swan, but I miscalculated and the food disappeared inside the swan's feathers. Whoops.
- Wallaby - oh man these are so freakin' cute. I'm not really one for the cute animals but it looked like this -
- and it ate out of my hand. OUT OF MY HAND. Granted, I had to crouch down in the dirt for bloody ages so it got used to me and could be tempted close enough, and then when I stood up I realised that the entire time my other hand had been resting in a big pile of wallaby shit but it was totally worth it.
- Large Pigs (regular/kunekune) - I quite like pigs. I like their unashamed sense of entitlement, for a start. Most of the animals were pretty coy about wanting food, all butting their heads against your hand and looking cute, but the pigs got straight down to business; the second you walked up to their fence you were confronted with a wide-open pig mouth (do not run a Google Image search for this). They throw their heads back and expose these huge yellow teeth and miles of pink gullet, into which you throw the food. Then they grunt and chew for a bit, while you scratch behind their ears (apparently pigs are into this). Then they open their mouth again. Ah, pigs.
Also: the kunekune pigs (which as far as I can tell are pretty much the same as regular pigs), like many (if not all) of the Willowbank animals, live in a little shelter. The difference is that while all of the other animal shelters look like normal animal shelters i.e. primitive wooden huts, the Kunekune dwell in a replica of a traditional Maori dwelling. The Maori, of course, being the indigenous people of NZ. Does this seem a little inappropriate to anyone else? Took an awesome photo of huge pig coming out of Maori meeting house, but is not developed yet.
- Kea - Apparently New Zealand's smartest bird. In fact, apparently the smartest bird in the world! Bit my finger. Did not seem very smart.
- Donkeys - Not very interesting but quite nice to pat.
- Llamas - Should be called 'Llames': see Donkeys.
- Sheep - See Donkeys, but not nice to pat.
- Horses - A Big One and Some Little Ones. Not unlike Donkeys, except that one of the little horses bit my finger. Was my own fault.
- Rabbits - why are these even at the zoo?
- Mini-cows - Ok so they're actually called Highland Cattle. They're like regular cows, only about chest-high and ten times more awesome. They rocked! My favourite was one that looked exactly like the following picture, but was black.
He totally has a band.
I want a little herd of these hipsters.
- Mink - Mink is Andrea's cat. I petted him when I was at Andrea's house this afternoon. Hey, Minko!
Animals I Did Not Pet, but Very Much Wanted To
- Goat. - The first thing Kate said to me when I mentioned going to Willowbank and petting things was, "Don't touch the goat." This was rapidly followed by Mum, who said "Do NOT touch the goat!" "OK! OK! I will not touch the goat!" Turns out that the goat urinates on his own head (I thought this was pretty impressive until I realised it is the head that he moves, not the stream of urine) to make himself nice for the ladies. So we DO NOT TOUCH THE GOAT, or everything we do smells of urine forever. Got to the zoo and saw the Untouchable Goat, who was just crying out for some love! However, I did not touch the goat. Instead, I stood next to the goat, wagging my finger and looking stern, while Kate took a photo of me Not Touching The Goat. I really wanted to touch him.
- Gibbons - Not allowed to touch them (although apparently last time we went to Willowbank, when I was Just Wee, my granny fed them a bit of licorice. Sigh). Was at Andrea's this afternoon and she said out of the blue, "Are you OK?" "Yes," I said, "am fine." "Oh," she said, "you looked a bit sad." "No, was just thinking of Gibbons." Thinking of Gibbons is good band name; Gibbon Query also not bad.
- Kiwi - "Do not touch the Kiwi it is a very shy bird yada yada yada." Also was bloody miles away and first one I saw was not Kiwi at all, was rock. Second one was bonafide Kiwi, but still not very interesting.
- Black & White Ruffed Lemur - Could not reach. Also was not supposed to touch them, but I would have flouted that rule without a second thought! Look at them!
Well, look at this one.
Dude! I really really want one. One of the ones we saw was stretched out on a tree branch in the classic lounging-in-the-sun pose. He even had an tree-branch armrest on one side, had tilted his head back and was stretching lazily from time to time. All he needed was a little lemur beer. Lemurs remind me of a dog/human hybrid.
In summary: Nature rocks.