So, this post will be a short post with lots of pictures from our adventure in Turtle Back Zoo. I will be linking this post with Nature Notes. This is primarily a garden-blog and so you might be wondering about the relevance of this post here. Actually, there is no relevance or perhaps there is a little. Regular readers know that I do gardening because I want to be part of nature. A zoo is not part of nature, but its inhabitants are. I feel extremely sad in visiting a zoo, and seeing all the lonely animals sitting alone in a small enclosure and we standing there, gawking at them and forgetting the fact that they might also need to have some kind of privacy. How shall I feel if I am kidnapped and put on an exhibition in a cage by some aliens? But, at the same time, I support zoo because the way the world is going, zoos will perhaps be the only place in the world, in future, where one will be able to see wildlives. One just has to read news from all around the world, news like 500 elephants killed by poachers in last in South Africa or daily about 50 rhinos are killed by poachers for their horns and so on, to start supporting zoos.
My garden is also dying. For the last two to three weeks, temperature have been hovering around 33 degree Fahrenheit(approximately 1 degree or less in Centigrade). Pumpkins were first to go, followed by Basil. Beans, Tomatoes, Eggplant, Pepper and Okra were fighting -- they were still trying to put out new leaves, green stems, flowers. Vegetables are still hanging from them. But temperature have been dropping to about 29 degree or less (about minus two Centigrade) for the last couple of months. I do not even know how those plants are doing now -- I am pretty sure they are all dead now, and I should pick out all the last vegetables and start preparing the bed for next summer. Darn! another year almost gone by. Why time is moving so fast? I have planted many winter vegetables and greens under covering-tunnels and hoop-house. So, gardening has not completely stopped yet, but pace has slowed down significantly and nothing much to write about. I noticed something this year and I am wondering if you have noticed it or not -- this year, I have been getting summer vegetables for a long time; I got the last cucumber in the last week. Even when temperature was dropping to 33, the plants were fighting and fruiting, instead of wilting down completely (which has happened to me in previous years). Could this be due to the fact that I planted the plants close together and thus they grew up, hugging each other, in towering forests? Just like we humans huddle together, during freezing time, to stay warm, perhaps plants also do the same -- if plants are planted close by so that they huddle together, they stay warm by sharing each other's heat; whereas they die from cold if they are planted apart. Any such observation, comments anybody?
Okay, without much adieu, here I present the pictures of our sisters and brothers.
Ray-fish. I was patting them. They were so smooth and silky. Golden Pheasant (one of the most colorful pheasants, found only in mountains of China) and White Napped Crane(their breeding ground is in Mongolia, China and SE-Russia; they migrate to Japan and Korea).
Mutjac or Barking Deer. They are found in the mountains of SE-China and Thailand where they hide under thick undergrowth. Snow Leopard (found in South and Central Asia, from Himalaya to Afghanistan). Red-Panda and they are found in the temperate forests of Himalaya and in some mountain areas of China.
Amur Leopard. It is now only found in a small area of Vladivostok in Russia and in North Korea. It has got extinct from other places, with perhaps a few surviving in China and South Korea. Andean Condor. It is the largest flying bird in the world now and it was indeed humongous. I still can't believe that it can fly. It was almost like a small black bear size!! It has a wing span of 10 to 12 feet. Its population is rapidly declining in the world now(NOW THAT'S NOT A NEWS. IF IT'S POPULATION WAS GOING UP, THEN IT WAS GOING TO BE A NEWS. SILLY ZOO-PEOPLE!!). It can be found in parts of Venezuela, Colombia, Patagonia, Peru, Ecuador, Chile and Argentina. Emu -- it is the only surviving species of flightless birds from the family of Dromaiidae. There were many such birds in this family and they have been on this earth for about 80 million. However, this is the only surviving species now, found in Australia. All the other species got extinct as recently as 18th or 19th century (we can guess, right, who might be responsible for such extinction :-) ).
Alpaca. No introduction required for these guys. I think they were telling us, "Oye, mate, fancy a beer?" Now, I think my Aussie friends are going to be mad at me for categorizing them like that :-P. America's very own Jaguar :-) -- they were two twin sisters of about four years old. Apparently, they stalk little kids that are there looking at the sisters from outside of the cage!!
Some North-American Mammals
American Bison. The red-fox of New Jersey. Peacock. Do you know that Peacock is the national bird of India. If you go to the western states of India like Rajasthan and Gujarat, you will see them flying around everywhere (pretty much like you see pigeons in cities). They are a site to behold but one has to be very careful as their bites are deadly -- hard and painful.
Now this was one of the highlights of the visit to the zoo -- Zip Line. It was not that scary about 3 or 4 story high (above 100 feet above ground) and similar in length. Before one realizes anything, the whole adventure is over. Scary moment is when they ask you to jump from that height.
And being a garden-blog, I have to finish the post with a picture of produce from my garden. These were the things from the garden on October 22; by then, it was more than a week when temperature were between 33 and 37 degree here. Winter has come very early here but the garden was still producing in full swing.