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Saturday, April 1, 2006

Another Saturday...over...

So, yet another Saturday has come and gone. It is a little depressing when you consider just how incredibly fast the weekend seems to go by. I remember that as a child, the weekends used to just go on and on and I'd spend all the time outside, playing in the garden or swimming in the pool. Not anymore. Most of my mornings are spent catching up on lost sleep from the past week and with all the carting my siblings around that I do and doing general admin for my own life I usually only get about the last 3 hours of daylight to do anything outdoors. Generally by this stage, I'm too tired to do any exercise anyway so I don't bother. Strangely enough though, I am not overweight. I tend to eat a lot but luckily I have a rather fast metabolism and thus burn off all that food before I get a chance to add to my mass. I feel rather grateful for that. I also feel sorry for people who do put on weight easily. It must feel terribly frustrating and I definitely understand how many people get depressed about it.

Well, today I got up at 10:40 am. I was meeting some friends at the zoo at 11:00 am to go and visit one of the zookeepers that we befriended last year. We had to do a behaviuoral study at the zoo as part of a theory topic that I took last year. I ended up studying one of the cheetahs there called Cole. He is so cute! He is at the top of this page. His keeper was a young woman named Althea. She was so happy that we had come to study her cheetah that she immediately became our friend. She gave me and my group the most amazing zoo experience that anyone could ever have asked for!

She took us with on her feeding rounds to watch and help feed the cheetahs, lions, small cats, seals, meerkats and other small carnivores. She was in charge of the carnivores at the zoo. She introduced us to all of the other keepers at the zoo and took us on a behind-the-scenes kind of tour of the zoo. We got to see the kitchens where all the food is prepared and she took us into the sleeping enclosures of the lions and cheetahs. She even took us on a tour of the animal hospital where we got to see baby roan antelope, kudu, chimps, some tame meerkats and even...wait for it...a baby red panda!

We got to play with the meerkats which are so cute but smell dubious...

Now for those of you that don't know, the red panda is one of the most highly endangered species on the entire planet. They don't seem to breed in the wild very successfully and their limited diet of bamboo shoots and fruit leaves them limited by food availability as well as georaphically isolated. Now, for some as-of-yet-unexplainable reason, the pandas at the Johannesburg Zoo breed like rabbits. They breed so well that they have to put the animals on 'the pill' to stop them. This is for two reasons. It is to prevent inbreeding as the available gene pool at the zoo is somewhat isolated and that the zoo can only house a certain number of pandas.

Now Althea was the best; she took us to the back of the animal hospital and let us PLAY with the baby panda!!! He was the cutest thing I have seen! I loved him! He was so fluffy that when you picked him up for the first time, you were so amazed because he looks rather big, but there is only a tiny body under all that fluff. I have never felt so very lucky in my life as that day where I first got to hold a baby red panda. I will never for get it for the rest of my life!

Then, I got to the zoo to discover that Althea, the keeper, was not working there today. So we all just walked around for about 2 hours and then left. I organised to go to lunch with my friends after that so I went and picked up my sisters from home, fetched my sisters friend (I was rather annoyed about that as she only asked me at the last minute while we were driving off to lunch) and we all went off to lunch. We had falafels from a really nice shwarma place. I then went with my sisters to go clothes shopping (it was agony!). I hat clothes shopping with my sisters! Once, in Italy, we went shoe shopping at one of the markets. My sister looked at one particular pair of shoes at the first stall we arrived at and she thought that she would like to buy those. However, she was not 100% sure. So, we spent the rest of the afternoon walking around the entire market before she eventually decided that the shoes that she had spotted at the first stall, 5 hours earlier, were perfect and she was buying those. What a painful experience...

So after shooping and lunch and all that, I dropped my sister and her friend off at her friends house and returned home. I was pleased to discover that no one was at home when we got home. So my sister and I just chilled for the remainder of the afternoon.

And thus concludes my Saturday. I'm rather tired but I haven't done all that much today. Tomorrow, if the weather allows, I'll go off to do some data collection for my project.

Fare thee well fellow traveler. Always remember to take a moment out of your day to sit and watch the clouds drift past...

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