Tuesday, March 21, 2017

London Zoo Part I: Rainforest Life and Nightlife

London Zoo is situated within a large park with abundant opportunities for birding. Here a mute swan browses from a waterside tree.

A European green woodpecker, a lifer for me. This species is ecologically similar to the North American northern flicker, which I'm more familiar with. Both woodpecker species forage mainly for ants on the ground.

I had to restrain myself from spending too much time on birdwatching in the park, but I eventually made it to the zoo.

My first stop was the exhibit closest to the zoo's main entrance, the aquarium. It has a nice collection with many rarely-seen fish species, but it is so dimly-lit that getting any decent photos was a real struggle. My only fish photo taken there that is remotely presentable was of this white-eyed moray.

There is also a poignant display on plastic pollution.

Next, I headed to the Rainforest Life/Nightlife building. Half of this building (the "Rainforest Life" half) is a walkthrough rainforest exhibit where monkeys, sloths, and tamanduas roam freely. Some of the branches in the exhibit are arranged so that the animals can (and do) venture close right overhead or next to the visitors. Here is an emperor tamarin keeping its distance for the time being.

Most surprising to me, however, were the narrow-striped bokies kept in a glass-fronted display on the side of the walkway. Though commonly called the narrow-striped mongoose (including by the exhibit signage), the narrow-striped boky is no longer considered a true mongoose, but a separate radiation of carnivorans endemic to Madagascar. I must have taken around thirty photos of them trying to get a good shot.

The other half of the building (the "Nightlife" half) is a nocturnal exhibit. I'd heard that Panay cloudrunners could be seen here, but, to some slight disappointment, they didn't appear to be on display when I visited.

I did, however, have a great time watching some other rodents present, namely the rakalis. Not only were they a first for me, they are an interesting species in themselves, being the largest Australian rodents. As placentals living in a land of marsupials, rakalis have taken on the role of semi-aquatic predators, a niche that hasn't been exploited by Australian marsupials. They have a decently-sized pool with underwater viewing at the London Zoo, though I didn't see them use it. Regardless, their terrestrial antics were plenty entertaining enough. As is typical of nocturnal houses, my attempted photos turned out less than stellar.

I also received another opportunity to get pictures of Malagasy giant jumping rats. Not there yet...

Say what? It is possible to get halfway decent pictures at nocturnal exhibits? It helps, naturally, when the subject of the photo is one that spends a significant amount of time not moving around much, such as this gray slender loris.


  1. Good job photoing the Rakalis!
    The only photos I got on my visit of the (water-rat;) that's what the "rakali" signage said on my visit. They were very active on my visit, running and swimming; camera-shy! I got a photo of a wet-blur, but I haven't (and probably will never) put it on my website, nor is it in the coding.
    I never knew London had Boky-Bokies in the Rainforest House! I will check the next time i visit.

    1. Thanks! Indeed, rakalis are commonly called Australian water rats, but I like the name rakali. "Rakali" is favored by some environmental agencies in Australia as well, as it is based on one of the animal's indigenous names. Glad you enjoyed seeing them, too.

      The rakalis and boky-bokies were likely the highlights of my trip, considering I'd never seen either before. (But don't tell any of the birds I said that.)

  2. I can promise that,
    1. Birds won't understand.
    2. We don't 100% know the IDs of these birds.

  3. Which Animals from A to Z would you advise for an exotic-animal-themed zoo? Here are my thoughts:
    A: Andean Cock of the Rock, Aardvark, Aardwolf, Alpine Chamois.
    B: Boky-Boky, Bulbul, Bat-eared Fox
    C: Cape Buffalo (I was about to put on Cape Eland but are lower in numbers in Europe, Crested Quetzal could be put on list from Dallas World Aquarium; If those Quetzals thrive!!)

  4. Cape Genet, Common Cusimanse, Common Vampire Bat
    D: Dingo (nope, really) Dormouse (of some species!) Degu
    E: Egyptian Vulture, Egyptian Goose, Emu

    1. It's been a long time since I came up with my own fantasy zoos. If I had to come up with an entire alphabet for one, I'd probably spend too much time overthinking it!

      But I like your ideas so far. How about frigatebird, falanouc, or fairy armadillo for the F's?

  5. Thanks, but no zoo so far has those 'f's.

    1. Ah, I didn't know you only wanted to use animals that are in real zoos. My own fantasy zoos were often an excuse to speculate about keeping animals that have rarely been held in captivity.

  6. Eastern Quoll, Elk, Ermine
    F: Fish Eagle, Flying Fox, Fennec Fox, Fan Worm, Fur Seal
    G: Gerbil, Groundhog, Green Tree Frog, Green Tree Monitor, Greater Flamingo, Green Iguana
    H: Harris Hawk, Humuhumunukanukaap'a (I mean, really, humuhum... Are a kind of fish!)
    I: Impala, Inca Tern

  7. Ok, I'm a bit conscious about zoos in 2032, when we might miss some of our old favourite zoo species, so let's just hope.
    J: Jerboa, Jird, Jacana, James Flamingo
    K: Kowari, Kafue Flats Lechwe
    L: Lesser Flamingo, Lar Gibbon

  8. M: Marmot, Mata Mata, Miltary Macaw, Malayan Tapir
    Just before we do the letter 'N', I just want to ask, Do Skeletons Count? Because..
    N: A Narwhal Skeleton near the entrance, as well as animals proper. Northern Brown Kiwi, Norway Rat
    O: Ocelot, Okapi, Ocellated Turkey
    P: Pink Pigeon, Peafowl (green peafowl, I didn't want to get boring!), Paca

    1. It's your fantasy zoo, you make the rules. So I say anything you consider countable counts!

  9. Q: Quetzal Cichild, Quetzal (Golden Headed)
    R: Reculated Python, Red-legged Serima Rainbow Boa (they are not rainbow coloured #danknames)
    S: Striped Skunk, Serval, Sand Cat, Snow Leopard
    T: Temnick's Tragopan, Trumpeter (of course the bird, not a trumpet player! XD), Tinamou

  10. U: Undulated Ray, Urubu (the Black Vulture of Africa, but refers to any vulture in portugese)
    V: Vicuna, Vole, Volantem Inamabilis Sciurus (Flying Squirrel), Visiyan Warty Pig, Viatnemese Spotted Deer
    W: Wombat, Warthog, White-nosed Coati

  11. So we're basically hitting the end, so let's have our last few animals.
    X: Xenopus Laevis, Xeric Four Striped Grass Mouse (Xyloborus info is deemed not known, because my scource only lists vertebrates and Xyloborus are NOT vertebrates!)
    Y: Yak, Yuhina (a kind of bird) Yellowhammer
    Z: Zebu, Zebra (joking about the zebra bit!) although there WILL be
    Zebrafish and Zebra Finch, named after that black and white equid.
    Did you like that? I put lots of research, effort, and time into it!

    1. Looks good! I can certainly see that you put in a lot of work on this.