We will be going back. Possibly to work as volunteers.
First, a sign we saw in the park, helpfully illustrating the life cycle of the tasmanian devil (click to enlarge):
In case you didn't get that, kids:
Look at those faces: Mating is fun! And a little naughty! Like I said: educating and fascinating!
Moving on: The Australia Reptile Park is one of the country's most important wildlife parks/zoos. For starters: It's where the venom from what is commonly called the most deadly spider in the world, the Sydney funnel web spider, is "milked" from spiders in order to develop antivenom. (Here's how they do it!) That antivenom first became available in 1980: before that, deaths from funnel web bites weren't exactly common, but they did happen, and if you didn't die you suffered horribly and were in the hospital for weeks. Since development of the antivenom there has not been a single reported death from the bite of a Sydeny funnel web. Not one. You still suffer horribly—the funnel web's bite is extremely painful, and you'll still get fever and sweats and chills and nausea and pain and pain and pain—but you're only in the hospital for a couple days, rather than weeks and weeks.
- Note: When Christine was a kid her grandfather died from a funnel web bite. She has a funny story about that. Honestly. Seems Grandpa was able to kill the spider—always helpful—and dear little Christine, about six at the time, was assigned the duty of holding said dead spider while they raced to the hospital. Once there, they were tending to grandpa and whatnot…when the "dead" funnel web spider…the most deadly spider in creation…started crawling across Christine's hand. But really, she should tell you the story…
Let's get to some pics. You'll be happy to hear that I actually didn't take very many. First, on the drive out, we stopped and listed to some bell birds. Just beautiful. (The also beautiful whining cries are from another type of bird which I'm not familiar with. I will let you know when I find out.)
I've always thought of copperheads as distinctly American snakes, but they are found in many parts of the world. Here's an Aussie version—very venomous (of course)—the very attractive lowland copperhead:
Here's a closer shot. If you click, then click again, you can get in very close to the cute bugger's face, and see the mites on its head. Mites are a big problem with captive (and wild) snakes.
Next up, a non-native animal, the Galapagos tortoise. I don't have much to say about it, but this beast does have an odd shell:
Now back to native Oz: wombats, the cutest little pig creatures you ever saw. I'll write more about them when we see them in the wild, which we will:
• My feelings about animals in captivity were very affected by this book: King Solomon's Ring. Lorenz believed that some, maybe many, animals are not adversely affected by captivity. And he speaks with more than a little authority. (On a personal note, I think it was my old friend Dave May who recommended that book to me. Along with A Confederacy of Dunces, A Canticle For Liebowitz, and many more. Thanks for that, Dave.)