Saturday, May 26, 2007

The Human Zoo

Taken yesterday at Taronga Zoo

I'm afraid this blog hasn't been published for a while but hopefully that situation will be short lived. Although I have been posting photos to Sydney Irresistible, pressure of work has meant that I have been unable to donate as much time to writing posts, as just uploading!

However, yesterday I took a day off to clear the clutter from my mind and headed to the beautiful Taronga Zoo, idyllically situated on the shores of Sydney Harbour. It had been twelve years since I had been to the zoo, but even though the layout and exhibits had changed, the natural beauty and natural friendliness of the staff and keepers, had not.

The visitors were friendly too, and I have discovered that the boom in digital cameras has created a new style of camaraderie. People would avoid walking past anyone with a camera raised, move out of the way for others to take shots, and ask questions about each other's cameras. At times though, I did wonder who were the actual exhibits - the animals or the people.

Take for example one smartly dressed middle-aged tourist who hesitantly approached a display of Australian native wildlife. Her interest was aroused by a duck-billed platypus and she asked the attendant, "is he safe to touch?" She gave the visitor a sweet smile and breezily told her, "Oh yes - he's quite safe." The woman however, was not convinced and wanted further assurance. "Are you sure he wont bite?" The attendant happily replied, "Definitely not - he's stuffed." Makes you wonder doesn't it.

In the tiger's enclosure I came across another tourist who made we wonder. The tigers are kept in a "jungle" environment behind glass in a cave like compound, (you wont see any barred cages at Taronga thank God). Not satisfied with the wonder of having one of these beautiful beasts walk up to the glass and come face to face with her, she started knocking on the glass while saying, "you've got a piece of meat haven't you pussy cat? There's a nice pussy cat."

The tiger gave her a similar look to the one I gave her and moved further along the enclosure. She followed. Bang, bang on the glass. "You're going to eat that aren't you pussy cat." Bang bang. Lord give me strength.

I started to move away but was stopped from doing so by a young man who came running, (and I mean running) into the complex, camera phone held high, to catch a glimpse of the tiger. As he approached, the tiger decided to have a bit of a prowl. "Shit" the intrepid photographer said in dismay, then dashed out again. He would not have spent more than about two seconds with the tigers before he continued his agitated quest for the perfect picture.

I like photography, but the best camera I possess is in my mind - not in my hand.