Wednesday, March 19, 2008


So I've been really quiet lately because I seem to be spending more and more time at the zoo these days! First of all some relatives came out from the UK to visit family, and I organised a special tour for my uncle. He's blind, so most activities are really bornig for him, but fortunately I got my friend Elaine, who works at the zoo, to arrange for him to touch a whole bunch of animals, to get an idea of what the look like. She did an incredible job, and it was very special to see how touched he was to realise that monkeys have hands!

This got me involved at the zoo again (Luke and I have semi-lived there for about 4 years now, including Luke's masters being based on zoo animals), as I hadn't spent too much time there recently with fieldwork and work and everything else. There are curretly two baby monkeys being hand-reared, so I started spening lots of time looking after them to give Althea (their 'mom') some time to get her other work done. Then, about 10 days ago, a whole bunch of animals from Madagascar were confiscated from the airport and put into quarantine at the zoo. By a whole bunch I mean several hundred! It was insane, the zoo wasn't really equipped to handle so many animals in a wuarantine that was designed for the occasional animal being sold or bought or exchanged, and the people who work there don't have any experience with Madagascan animals so trying to figure out husbandry for several hundred animals ni pretty bad condition was really really hard work! On top of it all they had to contend with me jumping up and down begging to be allowed to help! Fortunately (for my sake) they let me help out, but this quickly became a large part of my day. Feeding 600 animals takes a long time, and I try to help as much as possible so that the vets have time to treat the sick ones.

It's been really awesome to see some of the most stunning animals in the world. I've fallen in love with the little tree frogs, the big tomato frogs, the big day geckos (and the small day geckos) the huge panther chameleons and all the other incredible animal there. But at the same time I would dearly lovfe to remove the kneecaps of everyone involved in taking these animals out of their natural habitat, packing them in tiny little boxes and sending them voerseas to be sold as pets. It makes me so angry. I understand why people would want these animals as pets, they're very cool. But to take them away from where they should be... I just don't get it.

A long time ago I made a decision to never buy an animal that wasn't bred in captivity. Before that I decided to never ever buy an animal from a petshop. This was even before I refused a job at a petshop that sold animals. My point is, yes, that chameleon in the petshop looks really cool. But do you really want a pet that has been through so much? An animal that makes it to a petshop is probably among the 20 or so percent that survived a trip in horrendous conditions. I don't understand people. Really, animals are way cooler!

Thursday, March 06, 2008

evil tracksuit people

Generally at the end of fieldwork I'm super-fit and feeling great, and then when I get home after a few weeks of sitting behind a desk and eating moms cooking (which is great, but generally when I'm away I eat much simpler food, and less meat, because I'm too lazy to cook much at the end of a long day) I'm right back to where I started. which means 2 things: 1. whenever I go to the field/on a fieldtrip the first few days are always really difficult. 2. I never feel as good about myself when I'm at home.

So on monday I went back to the gym and got a new contract. It was pretty expensive, althugh I got a lovely 20% student discount, so I figured that that would be a great motivator to get the best value out of said contract and make sure I go regularly. Which meant that I left home just after 5am on Tuesdayt morning and went off to gym. By the time I'd arrived, got past security (I didn't have a membership card yet) and got going it was almost 6, and after jogging a little bit I saw that the 6am class was starting, so I figured I go and join in.

Big mistake! Firstly it was a combination of cardio (stepping and suff), weights and random other exercises that involve all those core muscles that I think I was born without. They were also the kind of exercises that I might almost manage, except for the fact that we were expected to do them all with a whole pile of weights. When we finally got to put the weights down they strapped them to out ankles and made us do other stuff.We also got split into groups, and I was paired up with a lady who obviously runs 45 kilometres every morning before doing pilates and then aerobics and then spinning, all ebfore breakfast. She was the kind of person who would use the rest periods (when the rest of us were collapsed in a puddle of sweat) to do her own exercises. It just wasn't cool. I was tempted to slap her and say something along the lones of "yes, look at you. You're so fit! Oh wow. One day when something goes wrong on the flight to Mauritius or the Seychelles and you end up stranded on a deserted island, you'll regret your 0.2% body fat! You'll have to eat your own leg to provide energy for the 10km hops around the island that you'll probably want to do every morning." But I didn't, I just battled through, sharing pained looks with the other participants.

That afternoon and the following day, I could hardly walk. Jen had advised me to keep going to make it hurt less (I couldn't sit up to get otu of bed, couldn't sit, couldn't stand up...) so I went off to gym the next morning, avoided all calsses like the plague and managed a limping jog and a few weight machine before hobbling off to the showers. The rest of the next day was even worse! In the evening, after a long and quite hilarious lab where I couldn't sit down for 3 hours partly from busyness, but largely due to the pain, as well as Luke's not even veiled sarcasm) I went home, sank into a hot bath with this weird mustard homeopathic stuff I used to use for stiffness after hockey (not the ice variety, but normal on fields hockey) tournaments when I was at school.

So this mornign I woke up feeling fantastic. It was the weirdest thign! so I went off to gym, had a fantastic run dashed off to wits, and foudn that climbing stairs still hurts, but not too badly. Jen already gave me the 'told you so' talk, but I don't mind. So here's hoping it never gets that bad again. And also hoping that I manage to keep going every day without giving up because of the horrible soccer-moms with too much free time for exercise!

Oh, and I must also write about the monkeys, I keep forgetting!