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Sunday, 14 November 2010

Hope Zoo - November 2010

Hope Zoo in November 2010
We have neither summer nor winter, neither autumn nor spring, said HD Carberry in his poem, Nature. At Hope Zoo, we have neither lion nor panda, neither elephant nor elk, but we have grinning crocodiles who "neatly spread their claws and welcome little fishes in with gently smiling jaws."

A crocodile enclosure at Hope Zoo
Last week I was on hand to observe a brave zookeeper enter a crocodile enclosure and encourage the massive occupant to move away from the corner where he lurked. The reptile was waiting for an opportunity to heave himself over the barrier that separated him from another enclosure that housed the object of his attention, a female...and another large male.  It was the first time that I heard a crocodile issue a loud, annoyed sigh.

The Hope Zoo at one point was being promoted as a place featuring animals of the West Indies and Central America. It boasts several exhibits of locally endangered species. A visit to the zoo gives some reassurance that there are specialists devoted to the long-term survival of these creatures in the wild. It is pleasure to see juvenile and mature iguanas being brought back from the brink of extinction, the Jamaican Boa and the feared American Crocodile.

Juvenile iguana
Until a few months ago, these unlovable creatures were the largest animals on display at Hope Zoo until they were joined by an ostrich pair. It is nice to have these outstanding birds in residence and hopefully they can bring more visitors into the zoo.

Near to the zoo entrance is the aviary of the loudest residents, the Jamaican black billed and yellow billed parrots. The furthest enclosures are the birds of prey in Jamaica including the Jamaican Owl, that looks like it has horns, and the small hawk that we call the Killy Killy.

Thre are big cats that are endemic to Central America, and perhaps one day the zoo will be the home of a jaguar, provided we can provide a suitable environment for it. Aside from appreciating a small collection of animals, the zoo is in a natural beauty spot and a stroll across its well-maintained grounds is time spent in the beauty of nature.