11 hours ago
Saturday, October 10, 2009
Crocs and Kangaroos and Koalas, oh my!
*Note: yes, this is an actual sign, not a joke.
This morning began with a trip to the Cairns Tropical Zoo. We drove 20kms north, through many round abouts to Palm Grove. It was there that we got to see a variety of native Australian animals. We saw 5 meter long crocodiles, many of which are serving "life sentences" there for eating dogs and up to 30 head of cattle along river edges. There were a variety of birds, with enclosures that you could go in and have them flying freely overhead. I really like to look at birds, but had a few "moments" when I didn't realize how close they actually were. Just ask Derek, and he will be happy to mock me and tell you all about it... We went to the Red Panda enclosure where the panda was taking a nap in the tree. We saw the hairy nosed wombat, which is a marssupial relative of the kangaroo. We also got to feed and touch kangaroos. They were about 3 feet tall and smelled like rabbits. Derek described them as being as if a Rabbit and a Deer mated (which I can kind of see).
WARNING: Geek Moment:
Marsupials are a class of mammal with the characteristic of the mother having a pouch in which the joey (all marsupial babies are called joeys) climbs into this pouch, or marsupium, at an earlier age than most mammals, where they are fed and continue to develop until they are ready to live outside the pouch, such as Koalas, Kangaroos, and Wombats. Koala babies are born after only 35 days gestation, when they are merely 2 cm long, hairless, eyeless and earless. They climb into the pouch, where they are fed by their mothers until they are ready to come out of the pouch. They then stay with their mothers, riding on their backs for up to 1 year. Also, the reason that they sleep for up to 19 hours a day is that their only food is the leaves of gum trees and the leaves are so low in protein that they don't have very much energy
Ok, I got that out of my system, so here is the really cool part: We both held a Koala!!! They are super soft and not as heavy as you would think. They hold on tight but I definitely wouldn't want to meet them if they were angry, their claws are crazy! It was such a cool experience!