Friday, February 12, 2010

The Cuteness Factor

Well I promised a post on “The Cuteness Factor” so here you go.
As I said in my last post (before getting distracted) Mon, my sister-in-law and her family came down from Queensland to visit us last weekend.

Well on Sunday we took them out to one of our favourite haunts, the upper Yarra Valley. The river was beautiful in the summer sun.On Monday we took the little girls (and their parents) to the zoo.
I always have mixed feelings about zoos: I find the plight of wild animals caged quite disheartening; but the children love to see the animals and, I must admit, so do I.
Also, I tell myself that modern zoos play a significant part in conservation of endangered species. This has certainly been the case with some small Australian species brought back from the brink with captive breeding programs, followed by wild release into national parks.

Melbourne Zoo has been undergoing renovation and upgrading for some time. One of the newer features has been the placing of various sculptures, that can only be described as kitsch, around the zoo.

One side benefit of these items is that small children seem to be quite as fascinated by these object d’art as by the real animals.

Meet the nieces: Mon’s “big girl” Kiele uses an elephant sculpture’s trunk as a window.See, I told you, cuteness factor in buckets.

This is Kennedy, Mon’s precocious not quite one year old.
As you can see, she is riding a “crocodile”.

Because the girls are so young we didn’t see the whole zoo.
But these were some of their favourites.

The giraffes.The butterfly house.
Here Kennedy stares intently through the rails at one of the butterflies.
Australian fur seals.In recent decades these seals have been absolutely protected under Australian law.
The seals in the zoo here were all rescued either injured or as orphaned youngsters. According to the keeper this female was found as a pup on a dairy farm in the southwest of the state. She was miles from the sea and starving. Raised in captivity she was released but she wouldn’t leave the area she was released in and kept approaching people begging to be “rescued” again. In the end when it was obvious she was not going to make it on her own she was returned to the zoo.

And last but not least Fairy Penguins. Also known as Little or Blue penguins these guys are very common around Australia’s southern coasts.
As I posted once before during daylight hours they fish out at sea, then at night they come ashore to burrows where they raise their chicks. I have seen these guys in the wild, but only resting in their burrows.
There is quite a tourist industry built around them at a place called Phillip Island people watch them come ashore after dark.

Then when the girls had enough it was time to head for home.

Kennedy peers back from her dad’s arms, by the time I took this photo she was so tired she could barely keep her eyes open.Tired but cute!


monix said...

Fabulous photos, Al, I would love to be sailing down that river. I have very similar views as yours on zoos. They are certainly not the awful places they were when I was a child but they still make me feel uncomfortable. At the same time, I know they are doing great conservation work so I'll say no more.

Your nieces really are very cute.

Sprollie Mad said...

Your photo of Kennedy peering through the bars is lovely. At that age everything is such a wonder for them, and it rubs off on those of us lucky enough to witness it.
And great photos of the penguins - I love those little guys :-)

Wendy R said...

Cuteness in bucket loads Al. Lovely pictures, lovely family, lovely post...w

Lisa said...

You definitely wore Kennedy out!

We have a marvelous zoo here that is constantly reworking the animal habitats which makes me feel much better for the animals.

Great piccies, as usual!

Rayna M. Iyer said...

Couldn't really get much higher on the cuteness factor!

And I too am ambivalent about zoos. The animals are not allowed the freedom they would otherwise have, but isn't curtailed freedom better than being dead?

Just 1411 tigers left in India, they say - if not for zoos, wonder if there would be any left?

Kristen M. said...

Al, you make me feel guilty for not getting out enough! I will try and take some photos of our beautiful part of the world this week! What adorable little girls and of course I'm a fan of the animals.

Voracia: Goddess of Words said...

Beautiful! I've never been to Australia but it looks lovely. Thanks for stopping by my blog.

PS Leonard Cohen rocks!

Al said...

Hi Monix,
Thank you for commenting. Our zoos have also improved out of sight. Concrete and steel are a thing of the past in modern enclosures. Yet…

Hi Sprollie,
I can tell I am going to have to find out some version of your first name. “J” doesn’t really cut it.
Kennedy was absolutely absorbed by the butterflies. She is very precocious, and yes it is wonderful to see that involvement everything they do.
I love the penguins too, nearly as cute as babies!

Hi Wendy,
Yes buckets of cute all round! Thank you.

Hi Lisa,
Kennedy was exhausted, fortunately she is not a grumpy baby. So she just slept all the way home in the car.
The elephant enclosure here is brand new, it has a whole series of areas that they rotate them through in an effort to keep them from becoming bored.
Thank you for the complement!

Hi Rayna,
Indeed, cute all round!

Tigers and their fate are such a disaster. Quite apart from the habitat loss, poaching to supply body parts for the Chinese market is simply obscene.

1411 so few, so little hope. My Grandfather had a wonderful story about coming face to face with a Tiger in MP when he was 17. He was a dedicated hunter, but after that time he never hunted tiger. To think that they are all but gone is a tragedy.

Here is hoping that conservation pays off. Yet every Tiger I have ever seen in a zoo can do nothing but frustrated pacing, they too pay a price.

Hi Kristen,
You’ll just have to blame it on the weather!
I would love to see some piccies of your neck of the woods.

Hi Voracia,
Thank you!
You are most welcome, and I will be bak to your blog again.
Leonard Cohen definitely does rock.

heidenkind said...

Awwww. I love zoos!

Anne Patrick said...

Beautiful photos, Al. Thanks for posting them. I've always wanted to visit Australia.

Al said...

Hi Tasha,
I have to say I like zoos. But I empathise too much with the more intelligent animals to not feel their pain.

Hi Anne,
Thank you, I am only too happy to share. You should come down, we hardly ever bite :)