Zoo Talk, Old Libraries and a visit to old friends

Six months ago or so, my lifetime friend of over thirty years Lisa told me she was going to be giving a talk on the early history of Auckland Zoo. Last Thursday it all came together, with a sizeable crowd gathering around at the Pt Chevalier Community Library, Lisa gave her talk with me her resident heckler parked in the front row with a big grin on my face. What I didn't expect was that I ended up taking part in that talk. Auckland Zoo history is one of my interests. Slowly but surely I''ve been working on a time line based on the records Lisa so kindly obtained for me from Auckland Council Archives. We went from the subject of the  Polar Bears, when one of the people attending asked how many had died at the zoo (that's where I got nabbed and a microphone shoved in front of me), that got answered, and Lisa carried on with her talk. Then we got to the subject of Rajah Auckland Zoo's first, and only bull elephant who arrived in 1930 then subsequently shot in 1936. Rajah is another one of my bugbears. For three years I nagged at Auckland Zoo to please change the story about a boy putting a cigarette in his trunk at Beaumaris Zoo in Hobart which made him bad tempered. It was a load of rubbish, and all based on a letter written by a Devonport socialite. At last Auckland Zoo have taken the reference to that down off their history. Lisa read the entire letter as part of her talk. When she brought up about how Auckland Zoo had been the main breeder of Siamese Cats during the breed's early years in New Zealand the surprised looks were everywhere! Escaped monkeys in wardrobes, escaped leopards found floating in the Auckland Habour, coloured mice and iconic animals. It was a brilliant talk . You can read the text of Lisa's speech notes here

After the speech was over, Lisa and I headed down to Onehunga for lunch at the former Carnegie Library. All I can say about this building is wow! The building was one of eighteen free libraries built throughout New Zealand from a grant given by US Industrialist and steel magnate Andrew Carnegie. Carnegie was one of the men who they say built America. There's a brilliant documentary series titled "The Men who built America" that has been showing now and then, on the History Channel. Carnegie is covered in that series. The Carnegie Library was build in 1912 and is a listed building with the NZ Historic Places Trust. After lunch we headed down to Archives New Zealand to do a bit of research. Boring it wasn't! I got what I needed which made me happy. We had a great day together.

On the way home I stopped in at my good friends Jack and Ngaere Hannam. It was great to catch up with them both after a very long time. The horse in the photo is their Arabian stallion Waimeha Detonator. I rode him for just on six years. If I had more time that day I would have been sorely tempted to take him out for a ride. He's 26 years old now, and I think he's aged gracefully in his twilight years after siring some top horses. He's had champion stallion a few times at the shows. I'll have to see Jack and Ngaere more often, you forget sometimes how long you haven't seen your friends until you do see them!

Oh look at that yawn! It had been a long day but a brilliant one and fun with it. And of course when I got home certain troublesome (but much loved) jersey Terrorist was there just to let me know how much she 'loved' her surrogate parent. Everywhere I went she followed! She almost followed me inside, the little toad. I had to shut the ranchslider fast! I think she stood stubbornly outside most of the night, before finally deciding the attempt to make me feel guilty wasn't working. There's more to come somewhere along the way, trouble is never far at Mad Bush Farm. And as something to think about. A lesson many people in our society need to learn. Don't judge people by how they look or act. This is from a video I found on Youtube from Britian's got talen. Listen it will blow you away. Jonathan and Charlotte


  1. lol very cool, sounds like you've been busy and you still owe me a visit hehe

  2. Very interesting post. I didn't know that about the Siamese Cats! The stud horse is beautiful. These days, I hesitate to mount horses named Detonator, though :)

  3. I was amazed myself when I first learned about them. Now they're so commonly available. Lovely cats but I'm not sure if I'd have one myself.LOL Nate (that's his short name) can be quite a handful. But I'd still get on him in a heartbeat.