I told this story to a few guildies a while back and decided to archive it in a longer format; so here is the story of The Great Flamingo Uprising of 2010 as told to me by my favorite cousin who was a keeper at the time.
In addition to the aviary/jungle exhibit, our zoo has several species of birds that pretty much have the run of the place. They started with a small flock of flamingos and some free-range peacocks that I’m almost certain came from my old piano teacher’s farm. She preferred them to chickens. At some point in time they also acquired a pair of white swans (“hellbirds”) and some ornamental asian duckies to decorate the pond next to the picnic area. Pigeons, crows, assorted ducks and a large number of opportunistic Canada geese moved in on their own.
I lost it at the bit where the koi blooped again.
Morals: geese are evil, swans are eviler, flamingos and peacocks are weird as fuck, and this story’s hilarious.
When the Tweedys bought a zoo in Borth, west Wales, it was a dream come true. But it soon turned into a nightmare of escaped animals, deaths and family feuding.
You might just be thinking that I have a fascination with zoos that became a nightmare for their owners, and maybe that’s true, but this article grabbed my attention because in my Aberystwyth years I spent many a happy afternoon at Borth Animalarium and saw the lynx in question. I was aware that the mini-zoo had long been plagued by various hardships, but I never knew quite how bad it was until I read this article.
It’s been a while since I last hid geocache containers and it felt like it was time I gave a back some more to the community, especially as the “village” I live in has a lower cache density than it deserves (conversely, Oxford City Centre is chock-full of uninspiring magnetic nanos – although it’s improving – and saturated with puzzle caches that ultimately require a trek well outside the ring road). I’ve never been a heavyweight score-counting ‘cacher, but I’ve always had a soft spot for nice containers as large as their hiding place will permit coupled with well thought-out pieces of local interest, and that’s the kind of cache I wanted to add to my local area.
So imagine my joy when I discover a little-known piece of history about my village: that for a few years in the 1930s, we used to have a zoo! And I’m not talking about something on the scale of that place with the meercats that we used to go to: I’m talking about a proper zoo with lions and tigers and bears (oh my!). Attractions like Rosie the elephant and Hanno the lion would get mentioned in the local newspapers at every excuse, and a special bus service connected Oxford city centre to the entrance to the zoo, just outside then (then much-smaller) Kidlington village.
Taking advantage of my readers’ card at the Bodleian Library, I was able to find newspapers and books and piece together the history of this short-lived place. Of particular interest were the unusual events of January 1937, when three wolves escaped from the zoo and caused chaos in the surrounding village and farms for several days. In a tale that sounds almost like a Marvel Comic origin story, the third wolf was eventually shot by local press photographer Johnny Johnson who chased the animal down on a borrowed bicycle.
This formed the essence of our new geocaches: we planned four geocaches –
Oxford’s Wild Wolf Three – not yet placed, but we’re planning a multicache series that follows places that the third wolf might have travelled through during its extended escape (the third wolf managed to stay at large for long enough to allegedly kill 13 sheep)
Soon after the first three caches went live they were found by a local ‘cacher whose hides I’ve enjoyed before. She had nice things to say about the series, so that’s a good sign that we’re thinking in the right kind of direction. The bobbin – who’s taken a bit of an interest in local history this month and keeps now asking about the ages of buildings and where roads used to go and things – is continuing to help me set out places to hide the parts of the final cache in the series, Oxford’s Wild Wolf Three, so further excitement no-doubt awaits.
I’ve solved the former: Claire needs to move her car (which is parked on double-yellows outside) or she’ll get ticketed when the morning wardens come by (morning wardens? they’re like traffic wardens, but they put tickets on people who still look half-asleep). The latter? No idea.
Yay; we’re off to the Borth Animalarium today, to look at meerkats! Followed by Troma Night!
My ‘Online Bank’ project isn’t going very well. So far it allows you to add Books to a Cart and get the total cost of them all. Which isn’t terribly useful, because that sounds more like a bookstore to me than an online bank… but I couldn’t find an example online about how to use EJBs to make an online bank, just a bookstore. D’oh.