Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Forty-two centimetre tongue

Today I learned that a giraffe can pick its nose with its tongue, and even clean out its ears. The tongue can be up to 42 cm, about the length from fingertip to elbow on a biggish man. A giraffe's tongue is blue to make it resistant to sunburn, as it is used so much in leaf collection.

I spent nearly three hours today at the zoo with my husband and two children. I have never seen it so busy - I am usually there on a non-holiday weekday - but the zoo seemed prepared for the crowds with extra parking on the grass cordoned off, lots of talks by the keepers, and a kiosk that I had never even noticed before open selling icecreams and pies. The animals were very obliging, nearly all visible and active which is not always the case.

There isn't nearly enough shade at Canberra zoo, but luckily the day wasn't too hot considering it is nearly the middle of summer.

My favourites today were the giraffes (with zookeeper talk and hand-feeding carrots which we didn't do because it cost $10 but was fun to watch) and the red pandas which were very cute. One made a slow way down from the top of a tree to his bamboo lunch, he was so hesitant and careful maybe he was scared of heights! A big drawback in a tree-dwelling creature. I always wondered what kind of creature 'Master Shifu' from Kung Fu Panda was, after today I think he was a red panda. That cute little face!

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