2011-05-05

Elephant footprints in my butter! Gone nuts on Zoo HIstory

Gandor New Zealand's First White Lion at Zion Wildlife Gardens
Warning this image is copyright to Liz Clark 

It seems lately my life has been filled up with very much alive lions, tigers and..... long since dead elephants. Oh please you say don't tell me ol' Mad Bush Liz has had a breakdown...Sadly for those who would love to see me have a meltdown - I'm still sane and have all of my marbles. Whoops one just rolled away there!

Over the last two years I've spent a lot of time at Zion Wildlife Gardens photographing the resident big cats at there, and getting to know the team as close friends. I love the place - it's like a second home these days. It's opened up an entirely new perspective for myself and for my girls. It's helped Michelle immensely with her autism therapy. Each time I've taken her to Zion to see her favourite big cat a white tiger named Tygo - she's returned home a lot brighter and she seems to do better at school because of it. Animals have a unique way of helping our special kids. Above is beautiful little Foxy the Olive Baboon - she's over 30 years old. I saw her many years ago at a circus where she was made to ride a pony and wear clothes. I recall she did also ride a tricycle as well. So long ago now - thank goodness Foxy is no longer made to do those things. She loves bananas - we take her up some every time we visit. She also loves to poke sticks into old rotten logs and get out the bugs. So there's a log on order from her for us to take up. We'll take a few for her then she can really have fun.


Okay I've been hooked on researching the stories of lost animals from our Zoos and Circuses in Australasia. I've found all kinds of stories - from elephants to sea lions that made themselves at home in people's houses. It's kept me sane while I've been suffering from a lingering flu and having to edit our local community paper. Lisa, also known for her outstanding heritage blog Timespanner, sent me a wonderful gift that arrived in the mail on a day I really needed to smile. A wet rainy Monday with everything going wrong and our rural delivery man shows up with a parcel. Inside it was a wonderful book called 'A Tiger by the Tail - Auckland Zoo 1922- 1992'. It's the history of Auckland Zoo written by former curator Derek Wood with Robert Mannion. The book was produced in 1992 by the (now former) Auckland City Council.


I've had my nose in it ever since - bad person I am! Well not bad because above is what came from that reading the book and looking at all of those old Zoo photographs. I've had fun drawing Auckland Zoo's very first elephant Jamuna who arrived in 1923. She spent over 40 years giving rides around the zoo to visitors. Sadly she was put down in 1965. Jamuna should have lived another 30 years at least. Sadly many elephants in captivity just don't live to their full lifespan. Other than digging into the stories of dead elephants and other animals life goes on. Still crazy still mad and that's how I like it.

Hope everyone is well and happy - oh well back to my reading now.
Liz

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