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Lazy Sunday – Part 2

After the otters (see previous post), we met up with friends at the Howler monkey cage where the Howler monkeys failed most impressively to howl at all, preferring instead to sort through the lettuce leaves looking for tastier papaya or banana pieces. We learned that in such simian groups, the dominant animal is not actually the healthiest because, given first choice of food at all meals, the alphas invariably choose the food they like best, which turns out to be, big surprise, the sweet stuff – and ultimately not a healthy diet. The weaker animals in the meantime are left with the less tasty but much healthier foodstuff and consequently eat what's actually good for them. Hm.

The Howler monkeys are part of the Small Mammal House, and I strongly recommend a visit if you're at the zoo. Not only does the Small Mammal House house various tamarins, porcupines, lesser tree shrews, and very cool three-colored squirrels of some sort, but this is also the home of the giant elephant-shrew – an absolutely fabulous creature. The zoo now has two of them, and as I squatted down for an eye-level look at the improbably spindly legs and agile trunk-nose, one of them stopped and sat down right in front of me, seemingly eyeing me for several minutes. We stared at each other, each thinking our own thoughts although I'm sure I was much more taken with the shrew than it was with me.

The Small Mammal House also features meerkats (or Erdmannchen in German), a new addition to the zoo, that were captured by a farmer who decided to sell them to a wildlife group rather than killing them. They are exceedingly cute, especially when they stand up on their hind legs and survey the landscape. A family of meerkats is currently breaking into the limelight on reality TV (Animal Planet's Meerkat Manor – don't ask), so I bet they will be popular here at the zoo. Just don't tap on the glass – it disturbs the animals and puts needless extra stress on them. They are already letting you stare at them, so refrain from also trying to startle them into doing things just for your amusement.

Although we missed the alligator feeding (frozen rats!) due to underestimating the crowd this would draw, we had a great morning at the zoo. And yes, I bought a T-shirt. Shut up, I'm supporting the zoo.

So, after getting up early, a good 4 hours of walking, and with the day's heat increasing steadily, it was time for a well-deserved…move between apartments. Yes, we spent the rest of the afternoon helping some friends move. We made good progress because there were plenty of people to help, and we were rewarded with pizza at the end, but it did disincline me for any sort of activity for the rest of the weekend. And hence the very lazy Sunday where the most lifting I did involved a book or the occasional piece of chocolate.

Speaking of lazing around with my nose in a book (P.D. James’ Death in Holy Orders), if any of you are interested in how my battle with The New Yorker is shaping up – well, don’t ask. I diligently managed to reduce the stack for a few weeks but then got caught in a thick travel issue, as well as some book club books, not to mention international travel, and before I knew it the NY stack has grown to threatening proportions once again. I have to accept that this is just not a battle I can win. I can only hope to keep up with the cartoon contest on the back page as I decry that once again the worst caption has won the vote. Oh well, what can you do? Hope for more lazy Sundays I guess.

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