I had gone to the Zoo for an entirely different purpose when I happened on Matilda in the indoor pool by herself, either just before or just after she had been given access to the outdoor pool for the very first time. She was having an awesome time cavorting about and grooming herself and I stayed for quite a while with her.
It was wonderful to have such charismatic animals back on the Tundra Trek and their exhibit was a great place to hang out for a while when the Arctic wolf cubs were sleeping; as I visited the cubs many, many times during the spring and summer of 2018, I had lots of opportunity to spend time with the lads, whom our exceedingly English-speaking Keepers had taken to calling “Thunder” and “Storm.”
There were also two new kids on the block: Arthur and Millie. They were very young having arrived the previous November from Australia via Brookfield Zoo in Chicago as orphans after their mothers had been killed in South Australia.
I visited Crystal often over the next few years and often enjoyed just standing in front of her enclosure, watching her react to the world around her. Grooming, listening, eating, playing, snoozing, whatever she did was of interest to me and, when I was alone with her, it was almost Zen-like.
Even in the realm of these impossibly cute animals, Suva is next-level photogenic. I have yet to take a bad photo of him that cannot be blamed on “user error,” and I call tell you that he is even more handsome up close.
At the very end of May, Philip and Tisa were “re-re-re-introduced” to each other and they began to breed the very same day. They bred again the next day, too; and when they went out on exhibit together on Day Three Tisa had had enough of Philip’s advances, but no problem: they just lay down a few feet apart, rooting and nibbling on whatever they dug up.
I now find I have not very much to say about black tree monitors. (In fact, they’re not even currently listed among the Australasian animals on the Zoo’s new website, even though I know I saw them there the last time I visited the pavilion.) I think I will talk about the Australasian pavilion in general, and I will continue first with more about Kiki.
I used to especially love wandering around the Zoo with my camera in the wintertime, either after I had finished a shift or on an “off-day.” Often I would have a meal bar with me for lunch and I would pop into a pavilion to eat it while my camera lens defogged. I discovered quite quickly that the very best place to do this was in the free-flight aviary of the Americas Pavilion, for in those days the plush-crested jay made its home there and would always come and join me while I ate.
The success of the Toronto Zoo’s breeding program for these adorable but endangered little birds is fantastic and speaks volumes for the incredible work the Keepers do there. As I have mentioned before – and which any of you who have known me longer than just a couple of years already knew – penguins have been my favourite creatures for most of my life and watching the interactions between all of the Keepers who work with them and the tiny denizens of the Zoo’s penguin exhibit is always heart-warming, to say the least.