There was a problem a while ago loading photos to blogspot sites and so I cut my really exciting post about Toledo Zoo in half ! I'm sure everyone has been checking back and tapping fingers to find out how it all ended. Well your wait is over. But first.............
In a world where nothing is as it seems, one man set out to prove that his life is JUST as it seems. 65 million years in the making; this time, it's personal.
Ok what is going on here you ask ? I've really been into 'voice overs' these last few days - well ever since I saw the Geico ad featuring the king of movie voice overs, Don LaFontaine. This got me surfing for more of his work on You Tube and found his feature on Good Morning America last year. This led me to other voice over clips on You Tube and I found 2 more excellent ones, 5 in a car and one with some guy I'd never heard of. Very funny.
Once I start looking at these video clips on You Tube and how easy it is to move from one to another and another and another, then hours and even days can pass in a blur ! I'm THAT sad.
But what a career it must be - voice over artist. Wonder what it says on his passport ? It was funny to look at the clip in that limo as he had hair back then. No idea how old it was but he sure is different now. The money he reportedly makes per voice over is astonishing and he can churn out loads of them every day. Nice work if you can get it - and few do.
Of course this has nothing to do with Toledo Zoo, but as blogs are all about sharing, then I thought I'd get in a bit about voice overs. Sorry.
So where were we ? Oh yea, the zoo. Well we'd seen some reptiles and birds and so on, but I really wanted to see a bear. I wasn't fussy.......any type of bear would do. On the zoo map we carried with us, it showed they had a polar bear - so we headed off for a look.
And here it is. As impressive as it was, I couldn't help but recall the ad on tv showing a bear pounding the ground over and over with it's front paws and the voice over (not done by Don) informing us that it had been driven mad by having to perform on the streets and being in captivity all it's life.
The zoo bear seemed to have a nice clean environment but it still wasn't 'home' for it. As if to prove the point, it would pace along the edge of it's bit of a pool (as in the photo) and pop it's head into the 3 or 4 little cave openings along the ice wall. I've no idea if these caves went much deeper than the bears body but it would just reverse out and go into the next one and when it got to the end of the ice wall - which was as far as it could go - it went back and did it over again.....and again......and again. You can see why the tv ad came to mind. Can an animal be driven mad in a Zoo ? Was there another bear somewhere for it to be with ? I don't know the answers to either of those questions but I came away feeling quite sorry for the Toledo polar bear. There is a polar bear webcam where you can sit in the comfort of your home and watch the bear doing what I've just described. Yep, it still looks mad to me !
Things didn't get much better when we came upon the elephant. THE elephant. Where was her mate, her play pal, her companion ? Oh sure she had a baby (which was asleep on it's side and never moved the entire time we were there) so she must've had a mate at some time. Maybe it was a one off date and they agreed to be friends and keep in touch. Yea we all know how THAT goes ! Maybe she forgot his number. So much for having a well documented memory. In any case, she didn't seem to have a great deal of space or anything much to 'enjoy' in her area and just stood close to her baby and stared enviously at those of us on the outside who could wander where we wanted.
Go back to that webcam site and you'll find one for the elephants too. Often you can't see mom and kid so maybe there is more to their compound than we saw. I hope so, as what we saw was woefully inadequate for such intelligent and long lived animals. I hope mom was born in captivity as given that infamous memory, the look she seemed to have when we saw her might have been wistfully thinking of the open plains of Africa (or India depending on what type she was) and thinking "what did I do to these people to deserve this" ??
I was starting to go off zoo's in general and this one in particular.
I needed cheering up and we headed off to the aquarium. I think. See, not having the memory of an elephant, I'm not sure about our route through the various zoo exhibits and compounds. In any case, we DID go see the fishies at some point and very interesting and colourful they were too. I didn't see many that I'd care to have had on a plate with my chips (french fries), but if size was the only factor, the menu was overflowing with choice.
Even though there is nothing to give scale to this ET lookalike, take it from me that it was huge. My clenched fist would have easily vanished inside it's cavernous mouth and not for the first time in the aquarium, I was very glad that thick glass kept us in our respective worlds.
I think it was a breed of puffer fish but if so, it was 'puffed' for most of the time we were there. Maybe it was having fishy TOM or just a bad day but either way, it was not a happy guppy.
This was also where we saw the cute and amazing dragon seahorses I mentioned in a previous post - so I guess I have got my sequence a bit messed up.
Before we left the zoo, we went on a short circular train ride to see a few more animals all in one area. It was a fun and relaxing way to see many animals in a short period of time so although the area itself left a lot to be desired, it was just what we needed after a long day of walking.
And that was it.......a few group photos near the exit and we left. I guess I came away with mixed feelings about the whole experience. I know that outside of a zoo, I'd never get the opportunity to see 99% of the occupants in my lifetime. I know that the better zoo's have excellent procreation and conservation programs which help with the very survival of many species. I know that most animals are well looked after and obviously, with no preditors to worry about, easily have a longer life expectancy in captivity than they would in the wild.
But, and there has to be a but, there are many lesser zoos around that need both an infusion of cash and also management to bring them up to the modern way of thinking of how best to marry the two contrasting goals of a zoo; how to keep animals in captivity so that THEY are happy and contented and how to show them off so that the paying public are similarly served.
I'm just not sure that in the case of the Toledo Zoo, either of these goals have been achieved.