Sunday, October 4, 2009
Madrid zoo - part I
In september I went to Madrid, and decided to visit the zoo for some sketching practice and to feast my eyes on the wonders of nature. The zoo offers a few shows, one of them featuring sea lions, who greet visitors by waving their flippers. While I have very mixed feelings about zoos, not quite liking them, I don't mind seeing animals interact and play with their trainers. They are taught tricks by means of positive reinforcement only and the trainers clearly like them. So, I learned that sea lions can walk on all four flippers and possess external ear-flaps.
Loving birds as much as I do, I could not miss the raptors flight. All sorts of impressive birds of prey soared above our heads, but I spent most of my time by the area where they kept and trained them. They have quite a few griffon vultures. These birds number in the ten of thousands in Spain, but have been decreasing everywhere else in Europe and are now being reintroduced in many countries. They are quite impressive, with a wing span of up to 2,69 cm and a weight of 10 kilos and more.
The white-tailed sea eagle is found in the North of Europe and northern Asia. It forms a species pair with the American bold eagle, which means the two are closely related and morphologically very similar.
In the elephants' pen there are only females, and all Asian. The Asian, or Indian elephant, is somewhat smaller and has smaller ears compared to its African relatives. The back is more arched and he only possesses one semi-prehensile fingerlike projection at the tip of its trunk, while African species have two. Another difference is that Asian females lack tusks.
This cow came over and calmy looked at us for a long time. I figured she must be used to being fed by visitors. It certainly gave me the chance to study her up close. Sweet.