Boyfriend & I took a trip to Banham Zoo this week, and it was BRILLIANT! We saw giraffes, cheetahs and tigers being fed and just had a fantastic time wandering around seeing all the animals.
But probably the highlight of the day (at least for me) was the free-flying birds of prey display. They really are magnificent creatures. It really brought home to me how they can be so mis-understood – so many people are frightened of birds and think that birds of prey are fierce predators to be scared of. Don’t get me wrong, they are fierce but mostly only if you are a small bird or mouse! Even the bigger eagles and owls are so much smaller than humans, and are guaranteed to be more frightened of us than we are of them. They will fly away rather than confront. Birds raised in captivity still shelter their food with their wings while they eat to prevent thieves.
My favourite bird had to be Boo the barn owl. A beautiful, friendly owl that likes showing off! Owls can’t see up close very well due to their eyes being fixed in position so they use their beaks to ‘feel’ around for food.
The surprise of the day came from the vultures. Well known for their part in the Disney classic, The Jungle Book, they are not attractive creatures at first sight, man of us will admit.
They have an incredible wingspan that caused huge gusts of wind as they flew in over our heads. Vultures feed on animal carcasses and are under threat of extinction, particularly those endemic to South Asia. Livestock are treated with a particular painkiller which even in small doses is fatal to these birds. Unfortunately the drug was in use for a long time before it was realised that it was the cause of the declining vulture numbers. Happily, the drug has been banned for veterinary use in South Asia and numbers of vultures are on the increase. There is still a problem however as a version of the drug designed for human use is still being used in cattle. Further work needs to be done and you can help by supporting the Hawk Conservancy Trust.
There is still a stigma attached to zoos about animals being held captive in small enclosures. I understand this feeling but zoos today are so much bigger and brighter than they used to be. So many are now involved in education, conservation, breeding programmes and rehabilitation that its worth a second thought before you dismiss them as wrong.
Just to finish, a few more of the pictures I took while we were at the zoo. It was a great day out and I thoroughly recommend a visit. We’ll definitely be going back again!