Field of Science

Interesting Animals Viral Chain Letter... I mean, Meme

I've had this one passed on to me by Julia.

An interesting animal I've had

My misfortune with cats has become something of a running black joke in the family - I've had two hit by cars and two disappear (one of them only a few months after I'd spent $1400 getting her brought back to life after being hit by a car). My most recent cat did technically outlive me - when I left New Zealand, I sent him to live at my parent's. Unfortunately, that rather elderly cat (I had inherited him from someone else who had gone overseas) took to peeing around the house, and after my mother injured her back slipping on one of the puddles, my father took the cat outside and shot him. At the moment my partner and I are catless, but we do have a year old retriever/bull terrier cross dog by the name of Sammy, also known as Master of Destruction, He of the Inescapable Tongue, and Digger-up and Devourer of Unspeakable Things. Sammy has been known to eat wood.

An Interesting Animal I Ate

There is very little that I won't try at least once, but outside of crustaceans and molluscs, there are surprisingly few tasty invertebrates. The only thing that I've found almost completely inedible were silkworms (they taste exactly like mushrooms picked after they've become too old and gone to spore), which were sold in copious amounts from street-stands in Korea. I have tried witchetty grubs, which have a very rich taste something like butter and something like snot. Jack says they used to catch locusts in the season in Thailand and eat them fried, but I've not yet had the pleasure.

One thing I haven't yet tried - a number of years ago the Department of Conservation tent at the local Field Days was selling pies made from possum, but they were all gone by the time my sister and I got there.

An Interesting Animal in a Museum

I already mentioned the Auckland Museum moa earlier this week, which despite its vast inaccuracies is an old familiar. For a great many years, visitors coming into the foyer of Auckland Museum were greeted by "Rajah". Rajah had been resident in Auckland Zoo in the 1930s, but increasingly erratic behaviour (in a time when zoo elephants were expected to be available to be ridden by visitors) lead to his being regarded as a danger to public safety and put down, after which he was mounted and put on display at the museum. By the time the museum was refurbished about ten years ago, long years of display had taken their toll on Rajah, who was beginning to look decidedly tattered and moth-eaten, and the decision was made to take him off display (it may have also been a factor that Rajah had a decidedly colonial air, and was associated with an outdated mindset that the museum was trying to escape the taint of). He was moved into storage, but the size of the mount was such that the movers ended up sawing of his legs in order to fit him onto the truck (seven months to prepare the mount, a matter of minutes to destroy it). I was an occassional volunteer in the museum at the time, and there was a story circulating that the sight of an elephant travelling down the road on the back of a truck had severely disconcerted a passing drunk in Newmarket.

Rajah has since been somewhat restored, and has been returned to the Auckland Museum as part of a display on the history of children's icons in the country. If you look closely at the photo on the museum's website, you can still see the scars of past indignities in the seams were his legs had to be sewn back on.

An interesting thing I did with or to an animal

I have been thrown by a bull once in my life. When my parents first moved from dairy to beef, the first time I helped in taking the bulls into the stockyards I was not yet used to working with these animals that were so much bigger than the cows I was used to. When one of them turned and tried to head back in the direction he'd come from, my nervousness rather compromised my attempts to shoo him in the direction he was supposed to go. The bull made a dash for it with me standing in the gateway, picked me up with the dish of his head and tossed me onto the fence. I rolled off the fence and came away completely unharmed. For the record, I am now more aware that it is spectacularly easy you get a bull to do what you want - you just need to shout louder than they do.

An Interesting Animal in its Natural Habitat

Pretty much all of them, I'd say. I have rather fond memories of the first time I found a scorpion, though.

I suppose I should pass this on. Okay, Kevin, Aydin, Bug Girl, she's all yours.

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