A rainy day at the zoo

Warning: Somewhere amongst the photos is a spider arachnophobes might want to avert their eyes from!

I love rain. It invigorates, and sharpens perceptions and delight, even if you do come home soaked through and a tad rough-throated. Not many people agree, so we have room to move at the usually crowded zoo. 

Hippos greet us, lumping around in the water, eyes popping up, and ears unflattening as they emerge. One treats us to a wide open mouth, pink and tusky and toothed, before sinking below the surface. We wait for feeding time, and watch as the keepers drop a puny supply of cabbage, carrots and apple into their vast jaws.

The big cats aren’t keen on rain and disappear, except for a lion huddled up under a small overhang and a spotted panther in a cage who tears at a sack of meat hanging from a tree until he liberates it, at which point he disappears to enjoy his feast in private. We reach the lemurs at feeding time and watch them for a while, speculating about their identity, before they too retreat. The gibbons aren’t daunted though: they swing on their ropes and walk along them and hold on by one hand and chase each other with beautiful agility. Swans, white and black, (the twins know the black ones are Australian) and pale pink pelicans, wings edged with black, preen. A loud bird-noise resolves itself into penguins wanting lunch: when we stand near the feeding gate they advance on us expectantly.

Maja is fascinated by spiders, cockroaches and yabbies, and walks around that enclosure twice, peering behind glass to spot creatures that often make me shudder. She and Jaś scrutinise the zoo map and point out where we need to go to find camels, which hide in their sheds, displaying only their heels and half their head.

I didn’t take many photos. I don’t like photographing through wire or in the rain, and I usually had an umbrella in one hand and a small hand in the other.

Always in Warsaw, events of World War 2 extrude. The zoo was bombed regularly at the outbreak of the war and many animals died. After Warsaw surrendered, “valuable” animals were taken to a reserve in Germany, the rest were shot and the zoo was closed. However, the director, Dr Jan Żabiński, and his wife Antonia, along with their son, saved more than 200 Jews by hiding them in abandoned animal enclosures. Żabiński was also member of the Polish underground Home Army (the AK) and took part in the Warsaw Uprising, ending up as a prisoner in Germany. 

About morselsandscraps

A retired Australian who spends a lot of time in Warsaw, and blogs as a way of life.
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14 Responses to A rainy day at the zoo

  1. Lucid Gypsy says:

    The spider is grim and I probably don’t want to know what a yabby is do I? 🙂 The hippos rock though, they look deceptively benign, I’ve never seen one inn a zoo. Scarlett starts pre-school next month, it’s based in what was the café of Marwell zoo and overlooks the penguins and giraffes!


    • Heyjude says:

      I’ve been to Marwell zoo a couple of times. It is a lovely place and soo much more open than a lot of zoos. What a cool place to have a pre-school. So where do Scarlett (and parents) live? I have probably asked you this before, but senile dementia strikes yet again.


  2. Tish Farrell says:

    Polish hippos – it’s an interesting concept. But a lovely day out had by you and twins.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hippos always remind me of my Australian daughter’s marital spat riding in Africa (Mozambique? ZImbabwe?) her then husband insisted on walking along a track beside the river she was sure was a hippo trail. I wonder if these too speak hippo-Polish?

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Sue says:

    Even a visit to the zoo brings out some historical information…. Excellent


  4. findingnyc says:

    So interesting to hear the history of the zoo. The spider definitely makes me shudder, but I would love to see a hippo. It seems like most of the zoos here don’t have them, so it’s been a long time since I’ve seen one.


  5. desleyjane says:

    How amazing are hippos?! Like Tish, I find it an interesting concept 😊😊 So cute that you have warning for the spider. I never do that. Eek!


  6. Heyjude says:

    I really am undecided about zoos. I agree on the conservation aspects, but disagree on how some species are kept. Small enclosures, solitary confinement for those who usually live in large social groups etc. I do however love your photos of the twins and especially Jaś with the umbrella. You know that for me you really don’t need the photos,as your words are so descriptive, so please go out in the rain as much as you like.


  7. restlessjo says:

    Love your first hippo shot, and all of the kidlet ones 🙂 A special Sunday hug for J. 🙂


  8. viveka says:

    Rainy days can be very pleasant … I am sure the twins didn’t care about the rain. I love big spiders so that is my favorite… and you know what. I have never seen a black swan in real life. Stunning bird. What I understand are they quite common down under???


    • Black swans are what we have in Australia. I saw one surfing at Potato Point one evening. It looked pretty bedraggled when it finally came ashore but it rode the waves like a pro. There are often a lot on the lakes round that home. I’d never seen black and white side by side before.


      • viveka says:

        I love swans … and I think the black is even more beautiful. They always looks so much more shiny than the white. Such a magnificent and graceful (in water) birds.


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