Posted by: Andrew Skelton | 15/04/2012

You Can Tell By The Way I Use My Walk.

Brazilian Tapir, originally uploaded by

What an exhausting day and an odd one to boot; we were off early this morning heading for Whipsnade Zoo, a regular haunt of ours as it’s only an hour away from home. I’d decided early on to try and concentrate on some of the animals that I normally overlook in preference to the more exciting ones such as tigers, lions and cheetahs and oddly it was a UK species that had us all oohing and aahing to start with. Having driven half way round the park (you are allowed, for a price, to take your car in as the Zoo covers more than 300 acres – the largest in the UK), we decided to take a detour through the Passage Through Asia and instead of being impressed with the various deer in the exhibit we all more excited by spotting two Hare sitting in a hollow close by the car. We did stop but by the time I managed to fish my camera out of the boot (I didn’t get out of the car, the back seats fold down to allow access to the boot) the hares, which had been patiently by the car took off just as I was about my camera at them.

I did have one very alarming encounter with some rather unfriendly chimpanzees. I’d been photographing a number of the troupe who were out in the fresh air, enjoying the sun when it decided to make an appearance, however a number of the great apes were in an outdoor caged area and it was these that took exception to my presence. Walking up to the front of this area, two chimps rushed up to where I was standing and start making very aggressive display movements. The thing is, I know what to do and what not to do around these types of animals and always practise good animal etiquette so as not to appear aggressive or do anything that might stress any of the animals, so I was a little perplexed why these apes had taken umbrage to my presence. As well as all the postulating, the creatures then started spitting at us (other onlookers had now arrived) so I thought it time to retreat before other more smelling things were used as ammunition, which Chimps are known to do. Rounding the corner of their cage I was rather shocked to find the main protagonist had followed me and was still not happy at my presence there, warding me off even when I was behind some opaque perspex the Chimp was still following my every moment. I have to say I was more than a little apprehensive at this stage as Chimps can and do bear grudges – they will target someone, or something, they don’t like and have a very unpleasant way of incapacitating their target – they will bite off certain parts of the male anatomy. As I don’t fancy singing falsetto (I was never a fan of the Bee Gees) I beat a hasty retreat, singing all the while “staying alive, staying alive”


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