We are ready to start our international jet setting and there is a tsunami of work coming with very little time to do it in. I was thinking back to the highlight of last year's post Bouchercon trip where I ticked something off my bucket list.
At home, as I write we have no floors - well, we have floors but they are dysfunctional in the sense that they cannot be walked on which you must admit for a floor is as dysfunctional as it can be. The hundred and twenty year old oak parquet floors are being treble sanded and quadruple varnished so the animals of the house are being incarcerated elsewhere.
This is the main resident of the house, Mathilda the staffie. That is a seatbelt she is wearing not a bad dog restraining device.
So when we left Bouchercon last year we went in search of other animals in captivity that are slightly more exotic than Mathilda the staffie or haggis Scotticus. It has been a lifelong ambition to go to San Diego Zoo. It has a reputation of being one of the best in the world and I really hoped I wouldn't be disappointed. Zoos can be wonderful, their breeding programmes have provided the last bastion of survival for many species yet some of them are still full of distressed animals on display for human entertainment rather than an educational example of animal welfare.
I think at the last count, San Diego Zoo had over 165 breeding programmes for endangered species.
We are here at last. More excited than a zookeeper viewing an ovulating panda.
I have no idea who this young lady is exactly but she might be the famous orangutan who underwent open heart surgery at the age of two. And why shouldn't she.
And I have no idea who he is either but I wouldn't get on the wrong side of him. I do believe there is a saying that give a chimpanzee a camera, it will smash it to bits. Give a camera to a gorilla it will gently take it apart and put it back together again. Give a camera to an orangutan it will gently take it apart, put it together again and ask you to pose showing off your best side.
As Michael Stanley told me, this is the second most dangerous animal in Africa. He looked pretty happy wallowing away in the warm water. Big smiley face hiding big pointy teeth.
Fascinating creature, some kind of wild boar and is an excellent way of disposing of body parts. Shy, secretive but incredibly intelligent.
Somebody doing monkey business.
Cute alert. The red panda.
Pretending to be shy.
Nearly falling off.
Still nearly falling off.
Getting settled into the wee bed now.
Really nearly falling of now.
"Managed to stop myself by wedging my head in here."
Any ideas? "I've actually hidden my head up under my tail. I do believe there is another expression for this in Glasgow but it's not polite."
"Ah that's better."
Satisfied with being the cutest thing ever blogged about. I feel my work here is done.
Why do these black and white guys get all the publicity?
At least red pandas move about a bit.
Red Pandas have hairy feet- even the soles. They can use their tails as a duvet and nearly have opposing thumbs - well thumbs that nearly oppose.
The most dangerous animal on the face of the planet. And a statue of a gorilla.
Caro Ramsay 25 09 2015