Monday, February 7, 2011

At the zoo

Remember that lovely old Paul Simon song, "At the zoo"? Well, as noted in earlier postings, Queens Park Zoo in East London has been part of my life since as far back as I can remember. I recall visits as a child in the 1960s when Jimmy the Crow was still alive. In the 1990s and 2000s, we would often take our growing sons to the zoo when visiting East London. And it was during such visits, around 2004, I guess, that I did these drawings.

I was working in a large scrapbook, with light brown pages. Slightly larger than A4, I was not able to scan the entire page, so in many cases the images are tightly cropped, or I have divided pages up. Anyway, we kick off here with, I believe, one of the tigers they have there, then a porcupine, and finally, what? A baboon, perhaps?

Initially opened as simply as botanical gardens on land set aside in 1880, the area was named Queens Park Gardens in 1890 by Cape governor Sir Henry Loch, according to a friendly website. I'm no expert, but the top animals are some kind of small, wild cat, and below them is another primate, possibly a chimp. They have a lovely large enclosure which, when I was a child, used to house the lions. There was no more impressive sound, to a child, then to hear a lion's roar resonating from within the barred sleeping quarters, where the animals were visible to visitors.

The duck pond forms a tranquil central feature of the park, and boasts a host of resident birds and many wild visitors. The swan, below, must surely be exotic.

I need my Roberts to identify the top fellow, while the oke below is one of numerous parrots and parakeets kept in cages.

The lions were relocated to a larger area next to the reptile enclosure. I enjoy this juxtaposition of a lion and what looks like a Cape eagle owl.

The friendly giraffe, with its lovely long eye-lashes, will extend its long neck and gently accept the odd food gift from your hand.

This looks like my niece, Emily, when she was probably not yet 10, on a see-saw near the lovely tearoom, situated under some of the towering indigenous trees which are such a feature of the zoo.

Not to be outdone, my youngest son Doug was also captured on the see-saw.

We once did a mid-winter nocturnal tour of the zoo, which culminated in drinks around a massive fire in a boma. These were drawn during the day, when some of whatever type of wild dog these are, roused themselves sufficiently to be drawn.

Another view of some of the lions.

Camels? There must have been camels, but I can't recall where.

Now working in ballpoint pen, with finer lines, I enjoy the way this fellow's face takes on something of a cartoon-like quality.

Two of three duck studies done on one page at that duck pond.

The third study, from the base of the page. A disturbing facet of the pond is the preponderance of very large barbel living there. The water isn't deep, and these ugly fish with their long whiskers sometimes swoop up to eat bread tossed into the water, and seem large enough to devour some of the smaller birds.

More birds, and from another enclosure, an ugly old hyena.

It's those primate chaps again.

There are numerous exotic birds.

Giraffes below, and above the great old bear in his large enclosure for which former mayor Donald Card raised funds.

Meerkats are delightfully amusing creatures.

They share an enclosure, as they did a page, with some tortoises.

More of the zoo's residents.

You feel for the two tigers, even though their enclosure is quite large. At the top, we found one of them actually lying in a large "bath".

There are plenty of antelope - is this a kudu? - and SA's national bird, the blue crane, makes a splendid impact.

Yep, it's that giraffe again.

There is one enclosure where injured birds are either helped to recover, or simply looked after if their injuries are too severe. I think these - a marabou stork and crowned crane - were spotted there. Below is a white lion cub.

Also on that page was this drawing of a blue duiker.

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