The West Midlands was our destination, Dudley Zoo the organisation, 2 or 3 hours was the travel duration to visit Daseep the Sumatran tiger was our expectation. She is a special feline relation because of her work in conservation; hopefully she’ll exert a lot of persuasion to ensure the future of her generation.
Don’t know what came over me just then, I went all Oscar Wilde! Alright, I know, my poetry is more comparable to Pam Ayres than a great literary artist like Oscar Wilde. Although I’m not disrespecting the lovely Pam, she is a talented and entertaining lady. Anyway, I digress! Daseep was chosen this year as the face of an international conservation campaign that supported Global Tiger Day held on 29th July to raise awareness of the shocking reality of the world’s tiger populations. According to a Dudley Zoo spokesperson, there are now just 3,500 tigers left in the wild, of which there are fewer than 140 surviving Sumatrans. Three year old Daseep and two year old male Joao are paired as part of an international project to safeguard one of the world’s most critically endangered species. Check out the whiskers on these beautiful animals, and the facial markings so bold and striking. I’m not jealous!
Dudley Zoo (in the Black Country region of the West Midlands) looks as though it is built on platforms in a circular pattern that surrounds Dudley Castle on top of a hill. It has over 1,000 animals representing over 200 different species like these Chilean flamingos that seem to enjoy standing on one leg and the otters and sea lions that started yawning every time I got my camera out. Some of the animals were struggling to keep cool in the recent hot weather so the zoo splashed out on cold showers for the Asiatic black bear and cooling fans for the meerkats. The monkeys and apes were treated to fruit-filled lollies and staff have been applying suncream to the sensitive skins of creatures who are normally hidden from direct sun by the South American jungle.
One of the big attractions at the zoo right now is a trio of special new arrivals born to four year old mum Daisy the lynx (Carpathian lynx to be precise). They are the first of their species to be born at Dudley and have recently started to explore their outdoor enclosure. Born in May this year, the cubs appear to be developing nicely and Daisy is doing a grand job as a first-time mum alongside three year old dad Dave. Then there’s the orangutans who are partial to a drink of squash and had a unique way of drilling straight through me with their eyes, like they knew what I was thinking. This cheeky orangutan was called Jarong and had the biggest cheek chops I have ever seen! I saw the giraffes whose pace of life is slow to very slow and they were so relaxed that they let the keeper rub their tummies.
The highlight for me had to be meeting the snow leopard cub Makalu who was born on 17th April. He is making excellent progress, bonding with his mum, gaining weight and chasing anything that moves. He was named after one of the world’s highest mountain ranges within the Himalayan region bordering Nepal and China were his species apparently originates. What a privilege to witness these exotic and rare wild animals share their experiences of family life with us. Roar!!!