HAPPY NEW YEAR
to all of my readers.
I realise that I am over a week late in giving these greetings. Better late than never, I guess.
In reality, I have been very busy enjoying life, family and the great summer weather we have had here in South Australia since Christmas. Before then we had some terribly hot weather. It was far too early in summer; we usually get weather like that in late January and February. Not this time around – it set all kinds of records. On many December days Adelaide was the hottest city in the world.
I haven’t had the chance to do much travelling over recent weeks. One exception was a day trip to the farm where I grew up. The farm is now owned by my nephew. This is near Loxton here in South Australia. We had a family get together over lunch. It was great to get many on my side of the family together, especially seeing my son and his family were over from Sydney.
Speaking of my son – he has visited us in the last few weeks on a number of occasions. This is always great because our grandchildren love coming here to Murray Bridge. They love spending time with me – and playing with me in our swimming pool. Trouble is – they really tire this old fella out. I need plenty of grandad naps to recover.
Tomorrow we travel to Peterborough in the mid-north of our state so that we can have a family get together on my wife’s side.
Stayed tuned – more articles and photos of our travels will be coming up here on this site in the coming weeks and months. Meanwhile, you can enjoy articles about my travels by looking at my archives here.
Giraffes always fascinate me. Partly because of their enormous height and partly because of the way they move. As for their height, males can grow to over 5 metres and the view from up there must be quite amazing. Of course it is very handy for grazing on the foliage of trees. At Monarto Zoo in South Australia where I took this series of photos earlier this year, any existing trees in their enclosure have been well and truly trimmed. The keepers try to simulate their natural environment by tying branches at the top of a tall pole (see below). Much easier for the giraffes than stretching down to the ground to eat the grass. With such a long neck, reaching the ground would be a decidedly difficult thing to do.
While visitors to the zoo do not often see the giraffes at full gallop, they can be remarkably agile over short distances considering their great size. Usually I have just observed them gracefully walking, again remarkable considering their size and weight; they weigh over a tonne (1,100 kg). The giraffe breeding programme at Monarto has been very successful over the years and the zoo now boasts the largest herd in Australasia.
Monarto Zoo is one of the largest open range zoos in the world and is a ten minute drive from my home in Murray Bridge. The area was designated many decades ago as a satellite city to our state capital, Adelaide, but plans fell through before any building could commence. The zoo is a part of the world renowned Adelaide Zoo.
The American Bison were very first animals to arrive at the Monarto Zoo near Adelaide in South Australia when it was set up as an open range zoo in 1983, though I should add that the zoo only opened to the public in October 1993. Before that is was only used as a breeding and pasture area for some animals from the Adelaide Zoo. Since opening to the public it has boomed as far as visitor numbers are concerned, with many hundreds of thousands annually (I can’t find any current figures on their website).
The herd of American Bison has grown from only 2 in 1983 to over a dozen today. They share a paddock of some 15 hectares in size and the bus tours all travel through the enclosure. On some occasions I have been on the bus when the herd has occupied part of the road leading through their home. Stubbornly they usually refuse to move; the driver has no option but to take a slight detour. On these occasions visitors get very close up views indeed. On our most recent visit they were well off the track, thankfully.
Although their numbers in America were originally in the millions they quickly declined due to hunting and disease. Thankfully the species was rescued before they became extinct in the wild and their numbers are now stable, though only about 15,000 exist in the wild population. You can read more about the species here.
Most people have probably never heard of the Przewalski’s Horse – unless they have taken a tour at the Monarto open range zoo near Adelaide. A few days ago I shared a few photos of the endearing meerkats at this zoo and today it is the turn of the horses.
Monarto Zoo is a part of the Adelaide Zoo and is my home zoo, being only a ten minute drive from my home in Murray Bridge. I am a life member so I can go visit for free any time, so we try to get there several times a year. This most recent visit was with friends on the occasion of my wife’s birthday.
The Przewalski’s Horse is critically endangered in the wild. At one point it was classified as extinct in the wild, but successful breeding programmes, especially here at Monarto, have seen the re-introduction of the species in its natural habitat. It was this successful programme which convinced me to become a life member of the zoo, even though I am not a particularly great horse lover.
It is the world’s only remaining wild horse and is native to Mongolia, Kazakhstan and the Gobi Desert. They’re smaller than domestic horses, with stocky bodies, large heads and a thick upright mane.
Monarto Zoo now has about 20 of these horses, having exported a small group to Mongolia twenty years ago.
In 1995, Monarto Zoo participated in a program which saw seven horses successfully reintroduced to Takhi Tal Nature Reserve in Mongolia, leading to the species forming functional breeding herds in its native habitat. As a result, in 2008 their status was downgraded from extinct to critically endangered.
You can read more about this beautiful animal on the zoo website here.
Over recent days I have been sharing some photos of Australian native flowers taken at one of our favourite places to visit. Pangarinda Arboretum near Wellington is about a half hour drive from home in Murray Bridge and just over an hour SE of Adelaide.
The arboretum is a large collection of native plants from all over Australia. In my many visits there I have always found a good variety of plants flowering, so my camera always gets a good workout.
It is always open to the public for free. All we ask is that you make sure the gate is closed after you drive through. This is to keep the rabbits out.