Tuesday, 7 September 2010

A Kent safari

Having Sam stay for a few days gave us a good excuse to visit Port Lympne Animal Park (zoo). I'm not impressed by all zoos but the two Aspinall Foundation Zoos in Kent are a pleasure to visit. The animals always look in good condition and the staff are helpful and seem full dedicated to their charges.

At Port Lympne the current stars are the Siberian Tigers. The tigress, Ingrid, above and her partner, Tugar have produced two beautiful cubs, that were born on June 27th.

They have just been named Zaria and Roza, although I have no idea which is which. Although they are only ten weeks old they are already beginning to show interest in some meat to supplement their milk diet.

Siberian Tigers are sadly endangered and it is estimated that less than 500 remain in the wild today. They are under threat from poaching and loss of prey species.

I've always liked the "back-lights" on the Tiger's ears, presumably they are used in the recognition and signalling language that they have.

The park has a large area of open space for animals to wander and although not quite the Serengeti it does allow the animals a wide area to range over. This Grant's Zebra looks quite at home of the Kent grassland.

Although the African Elephants are in their own enclosure the can been seen from the Safari vehicle that give a tour of the grounds.

Halfway round the safari route there is a stopping point where some of the smaller animals such as snakes and frogs can be seen. In addition there is a small group (three) of Pygmy Marmosets. This is one of the smallest primates in the word and it is the smallest Monkey. They are native to South America, in Brazil, Ecuador, Colombia and Peru and inhabit flooded forests and bamboo thickets. At the moment they are not listed by the ICUN.

Among the animals wandering in the park were a number of Defassa Waterbuck. This male seems to have had an accident with one of it's horns.

The largest of the Spiral Horned Antelopes, the Eland is a bovine like animal and it is farmed for it's meat in parts of Africa. The name Eland comes from the Dutch word for Moose, possibly due to it's moose-like face.

The Roan Antelope is one of the most handsome of the horse-like antelopes (Hippotraginae). It is tall and powerful, and the males have a fine set of horns to defend their herd of females for other males.

I'm not usually a fan of Zoo photography, but the young Tigers were irresistible. The Aspinall do good work for conservation and the animal parks will, hopefully, help to get the next generation to appreciate the treasures of the world some what better that their predecessors.

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