Basel, Switzerland: Day Three, Basel Zoo
African Wild Dog. Click to expand photo.
The African Wild Dog is my favorite animal on the planet. Unlike most predators, include lions, tigers, bears and wolves, African Wild Dog packs have a nearly 100% success rate when initiating a hunt. They are one of the most endangered carnivores on the African continent. You can help save this amazing animal by donating to the African Wild Dog Conservancy (now the Zambian Carnivore Programme).
Today, this traveler had the morning free before flying home. I chose to spend the day at the Basel Zoo. This is a lovely shaded place to walk around and easily accessible from the #10 tram. And interestingly, there aren't just zoo residents to admire. There are birds and other creatures there that just find it a nice place to live. Grey herons, moor hens, robins, blue tits, great tits, and collared doves seem to find the place irresistible.
So here is why I don't like hippos.
Hippos are scary. This happened about ten feet from me (provoked by another hippo). The behemoth came out of the water, mouth extraordinarily wide open, snapped its mouth shut, and then glared at the universe as if it wanted it to implode into a black hole that very second (just look at its eye in the second photo if you don't believe me). The whole hippo attitude toward other hippos -- and all other life forms, for that matter -- made me want to run squealing like a five year old all the way back to my hotel. Instead, I went to the nice outdoor cafe there, had a good cup of tea, and let my heart rate return to normal.
Hippos are interesting for many reasons though I find that their closest relatives are whales and dolphins and that they are the third largest land animal in the world particularly of note.
And I still think they are damned scary.
Cormorant doing something I've never seen before: chasing a dragonfly. This was an epic battle between bird and insect. It went on for a good ten minutes.
The Red-eared turtle, a native of North America and considered an invasive species seems to like the zoo too....
Hawaiian Goose. This goose had a whole conversation with me and followed me as I walked around the area it was in. I have no idea what it was trying to tell me. Although, I would hope it was apologizing for the behavior of some other geese who chased me down the road last year in Vermont. Click here for photos of that.