A Yank's View of England Part 2

Tuesday - May 2nd

Twycross Zoo was to be the first of the "not engines" outings. As it turns out it was (I think) the ONLY day that didn't involve engine contact. Also since this was to be an "educational" trip, Tom and Christian got the day off school as did their cousins Matt and Laura.

Twycross Zoo got added to the trip list as a result of one of my wide ranging email discussions with Helen. Between us we've done a couple of graduate courses in "Diverse Studies." Twycross Zoo opened in 1963 on a site in Leicestershire and has grown to be one of the major British zoos. However it's claim to fame is the collection of primates. They have over a hundred individuals representing 15 species. There's a couple of web sites that provide a bit of info on Twycross:

http://www.twycrosszoo.com/

But it was one species in particular that was interesting, the bonobos (Pan paniscus). They're one of the last of the large mammals to be found by science (discovered in 1929). The species is best characterized as female-centered and egalitarian and as one that substitutes sex for aggression. Whereas in most other species sexual behavior is a fairly distinct category, in the bonobo it's part and parcel of social relations.
Clearly interesting critters. There's a couple of web sites that provide a bit more info on the bonobos. Twycross is one of just a few zoos (along with San Diego) that has bonobos.

http://songweaver.com/info/bonobos.html

http://williamcalvin.com/teaching/bonobo.htm


http://www.2think.org/bonobo.shtml

The day was brilliantly sunny but cold in the morning. One of the things I had to get used to was Helen as drill sargent. She likes to be at places when the doors open. So you get moving EARLY in the morning or you get left at home. No damn wonder FBI is such a smooth running business!
We work our way through the various exhibits. I'm mildly disappointed that the various primate areas are fairly quiet. I guess their morning coffee hasn't kicked in.

One display of small monkeys (don't recall which ones) were a hoot. One individual in particular took GREAT offence to Christian's redish hair. He would fling himself at Chris' head slamming into the glass with a snarl and a hand slap. Naturally brother and cousins found this greatly entertaining. Chris gets the bright idea to try on Tom's hat. Problem solved. End of agression. Hat off, monkey goes nuts. Hat on, all is calm. I think we went back through there three times in the course of the day.

The bonobos were really cool. Very gracile and when walking erect looked like an artist's conception of an early hominid. It was fun to watch the way families played and disciplined the little ones. Very human-like behaviour.

For lunch, we had a picnic out of the boot (trunk for my fellow yanks). Damn, wot a lunch!! This was my first time to sample Marmite (a picnic with Marmite sandwiches had been a part of the Twycross Zoo trip plan from day one as a result of an off-topic list thread that we took off list).
So there I am, Marmite sandwich in hand, being watched like a hawk for any reaction (not just Helen mind you, the whole damn lot of 'em). Felt like an exhibit myself. Well, time to bite it so to speak. Chomp!
Chew! Hey this stuff tastes great! That clearly put me in the Marmite! Love it! camp. I had Marmite & cheese, Marmite & peanut butter, and Marmite and ham. All delish. For those of you who haven't heard of the stuff. Check out these web sites. The last is to give the folks down under a bit of a plug for their "ugly sister" Vegemite.

http://www.gty.org/~phil/marmite.htm
http://www.nz.com/NZ/Culture/Food/Marmite.html
http://www.ozchannel.com/vegemite/vegemite.html

I figgered I was destined to like this stuff when I found out that the source of the yeast is breweries! 8-))

Actually, if any of the folks coming to Portland from Oz would be so kind, I'd like to do a taste comparison. So if you could bring me a small jar of Vegemite...

The rest of the picnic was also great. Veggies, pickles, fruit, flask of coffee. Oh, did I mention the home made bread?

After lunch we head back to go through the exhibits we didn't get to on the first pass. At one of the chimpanzee exhibits, this chimp was sitting on a ledge by the glass. He had a blade of dried grass that he was threading through a tiny gap between the brick and the glass. Like he was trying to communicate. The kids had fun passing grass back and forth. The chimp was clearly disappointed when we moved on. Actually got to see a lime green Austrailian cane toad in one exhibit area. Anyone up for a lick?

As we were headed out, things had gotten LOTS noisier! The howler monkeys were living up to their name big time! I stood facinated watching and listening. It was easy to close your eyes and imagine them in the wild.

Dinner was leftover goulash. Even better than the first time! Jim's mum brought over her world famous trifle for dessert. Totally awesome stuff trifle! The day finished off with drinks and chat.

Next up a visit to Peter Forbes engine shed!

Arnie's UK Tour

Rushden Cavalcade Twycross Zoo Peter Forbes'
Country Towns Stoke Goldington Roland Craven
Stoke Bruerne Southern England Local Attractions
Canals & Wales Last Few Days  

This page was a joint production by Arnie and Dolly - words by Arnie, webbing by Dolly


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