Friday, November 30, 2012

Sunny Side Up

"Until one has loved an animal, a part of one's soul remains unawakened."
- Anatole France -

This week’s end of the week smile is an old story, but a very sweet one; it's about a loving greyhound that helped nurse all types of animals back to health.


Mother Dog Doing What She Does Best

In 2003, police in Warwickshire, England opened a garden shed and found a whimpering, cowering dog. It had been locked in the shed and abandoned. It was dirty and malnourished, and had clearly been abused.

The police took the dog, which was a greyhound female, to the nearby Nuneaton and Warwickshire Wildlife Sanctuary known as a willing haven for animals abandoned, orphaned or otherwise in need.

Geoff and the other sanctuary staff went to work with two aims: to restore the dog to full health, and to win her trust. It took several weeks, but eventually both goals were achieved. They named her Jasmine, and they started to think about finding her an adoptive home.

The dog had other ideas. No one remembers now how it began, but Jasmine started welcoming all animal arrivals at the sanctuary. It didn’t matter if it was a puppy, a fox cub, a rabbit or any other type of animal; Jasmine would peer into the box or cage and, where possible, deliver a welcoming lick.

Jasmine with one of her rabbit 'babies'.
Geoff relates one of the early incidents. "We had two puppies that had been abandoned by a nearby railway line. One was a Lakeland Terrier cross and another was a Jack Russell Doberman cross. They were tiny when they arrived at the centre and Jasmine approached them and grabbed one by the scruff of the neck in her mouth and put him on the settee. Then she fetched the other one and sat down with them, cuddling them."

"But she is like that with all of our animals, even the rabbits. She takes all the stress out of them and it helps them to not only feel close to her but to settle into their new surroundings. She has done the same with the fox and badger cubs, she licks the rabbits and guinea pigs, and even lets the birds perch on the bridge of her nose."

From left to right: Toby, a stray Lakeland dog; Bramble, an orphaned roe deer;
Buster, a stray Jack Russell; a dumped rabbit; Sky, an injured barn owl, and Jasmine
Jasmine, the timid, abused, deserted waif, became the animal sanctuary's resident surrogate mother, a role for which she might have been born. The list of orphaned and abandoned youngsters she has cared for comprises five fox cubs, four badger cubs, 15 chicks, eight guinea pigs, two stray puppies and 15 rabbits.

And one roe deer fawn.

Tiny Bramble, 11 weeks old, was found semi-conscious in a field. Upon arrival at the sanctuary, Jasmine cuddled up to her to keep her warm, and then went into the full foster mum role. Jasmine the greyhound showers Bramble the roe deer with affection and makes sure nothing is matted in her fur.

“They are inseparable”, says Geoff. "Bramble walks between her legs and they keep kissing each other. They walk together round the sanctuary. It's a real treat to see them."

Jasmine and Bramble
Jasmine will continue to care for Bramble until she is old enough to be returned to woodland life. When that happens, Jasmine will not be lonely. She will be too busy showering love and affection on the next orphan or victim of abuse.


A super weekend, to all!

Book It - Lottery

This week’s featured book:

Author: Patricia Wood


Perry L. Crandall knows what it’s like to be an outsider. With an IQ of 76, he’s an easy mark. Before his grandmother died, she armed Perry well with what he’d need to know: the importance of words and writing things down, and how to play the lottery. Most important, she taught him whom to trust, a crucial lesson for Perry when he wins the multimillion-dollar jackpot. As his family descends, moving in on his fortune, his fate, and his few true friends, he has a lesson for them: never, ever underestimate Perry Crandall.

My Comments:

This book was so insanely popular when it hit the market that I just had to see what the fuss was all about. So I did. And now, years later, I’m still trying to determine whether I liked this book or not, and if I did, what I actually liked about it. I’m still sitting on the fence on this one, as you can see, but one thing’s for sure: I don’t think it was an amazing, you-gotta-read-this-because-it’ll-change-your-life book!

Sure it was funny, charming and enjoyable from start to finish, but not the type of story I’d feel like reading again. Even after some time has passed. It’s not an earth shattering tale but it’s unique enough to attract attention. The writing is rather simple but pleasing. And although it’s not a page turner, it moves quickly enough to keep you interested. But what really keeps you engrossed is sweet, good-natured, naïve Perry; the main attraction of the story. It’s worth a read. Just once.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

It’s A ‘Do Si Do’ Day

Get ready to ‘Do Si Do’ and swing your partner round and round because today is ‘National Square Dance Day’.

Square dancing is supposed to be a lot of fun, and a great form of exercise, and certainly something that I’d be willing to try.

Despite what many people think, square dancing is not a North American creation. It was brought here by European settlers and has since then undergone considerable changes. Square dances were first documented in 17th century England, but were also quite common in France and throughout Europe.

This form of dancing is quite popular. Even the Looney Tunes got into it as you can see in the video below. It is my favourite square dance performance...

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Malala Yousafzai’s Father Thanks Well Wishers On Her Behalf

Awhile back, I wrote about the dreadful shooting of Malala Yousafzai, an inspirational young girl that the cowardly Pakistani Taliban attempted to assassin to silence her fight for education for all girls.

Well, she survived, and I’m happy to report that she is slowly but surely recovering, and that her prognosis is very optimistic. My wish is that she heals completely, in every sense of the word.

While searching for information about her condition, I ran across the video below. In it, Ziauddin Yousafzai, the father of Malala, issues a statement on her behalf, thanking well-wishers for cards, messages and gifts sent to her as she recovers in hospital in Birmingham. And he also makes an inspiring speech about the grand cause of peace, education, freedom of thought and freedom of expression, and so on. Take a moment to listen to what this man says. It speaks to the soul.

I am humbled by this brave, compassionate and clearly wise man. Can you image what kind of world this would be if there were far more people like him in it?

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Today's Trivia - The Woman Who Fell From The Sky

I’m always amazed by stories about people who cheat death when the odds are extremely against them surviving. One example of this type of situation is the story of Vesna Vulović, the woman who fell from the sky...

On the 26th of January in 1972, an explosion caused by a bomb ripped apart JAT Flight 367 over Srbská Kamenice in Czechoslovakia (now Czech Republic), on which Vesna Vulović was a flight attendant. Along with everyone else aboard that flight, Vulović plummeted 10,160 metres (33,300 feet) in temperatures of 60 degrees below zero towards the ground. Everyone died on impact, except for Vulovic.

Vesna Vulović (Photo from here.)
She was rescued from the wrecked fuselage by Bruno Honke, a local man who had heard her screams. Having been in the German Army as a medic during World War II, he knew how to treat her at the site of the accident until help arrived. She suffered a fractured skull, three broken vertebrae (one crushed completely) that left her temporarily paralyzed from the waist down and two broken legs. She was in a coma for 27 days. Within 10 months, she was walking again, a feat she attributes to eating chocolate, spinach and fish oil as a child, and to having the stubbornness of a Serb.

I tell you, when it’s not your time, no matter what the grim reaper has planned, he just can’t touch you...

Incidentally, Vesna Vulović was not scheduled to be on that flight; she had been mixed up with another female flight attendant who was also named Vesna. Makes you wonder if the other flight attendant would have been as lucky.

And just so you know:

This story may be hugely slightly exaggerated as a cover up for something else (read more here). But I’ll let you come to your own conclusions. I’m leaving the story as is on this post because it’s much more interesting this way.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Things I Wonder About

I have a very busy mind. I’m always thinking about something or other. Wondering about this or that. Pondering stuff. Some of it important. Some of it very trivial. Like this:

Why on earth do people in horror movies enter dark and creepy rooms with the tiniest, most insignificant flashlights? Rooms where there is a 99.99% chance that something shockingly evil is awaiting them. Rooms where they’ll inevitably come face to face with that evil because that’s how close they’ll have to get to something before they can see it with such a pathetic amount of light.


I mean, seriously, they enter into these dark areas that are sure to evoke heart failure with something like this:

Or this:

And even worse, this:

If I entered such a room, which chances are I never would unless I absolutely had to, I would take with me the mother of all flashlights. Something like the flashlight below that would instantly blind a perpertrator...

Or this one that can also be used as a club...

Just once, I’d like to watch a scary movie where somebody pulls out that mega-sized flashlight that can light up an entire forest if need be instead of the rinky-dink types that are used. Just once.

This is one of the trivial things I wonder about...

Sunday, November 25, 2012

A Single Photograph

"It is not by muscle, speed, or physical dexterity that great things are achieved,
but by reflection, force of character, and judgment."
- Marcus Tullius Cicero -

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Tune Time – Big Yellow Taxi

I’m proud to say that this song was written and originally performed in 1970 by a fellow Canuck by the name of Joni Mitchell. It was a huge hit in Canada, the UK and Australia. It wasn’t a very big hit in the US when it came out; its popularity there rose with a live version release in 1975.

Apparently, Mitchell got the idea for the song during a visit to Hawaii. She looked out of her hotel window at the spectacular Pacific mountain scenery, and then down to a parking lot.

She is quoted as saying: “I wrote 'Big Yellow Taxi' on my first trip to Hawaii. I took a taxi to the hotel and when I woke up the next morning, I threw back the curtains and saw these beautiful green mountains in the distance. Then, I looked down and there was a parking lot as far as the eye could see, and it broke my heart... this blight on paradise. That's when I sat down and wrote the song.”

Saturday Silliness

Another day of silliness...

That's Nice, That's Real Nice

One day these two fine southern ladies were sittin' on the front porch having some iced tea. One of the women sticks out her hand for the other woman to see, and in her long southern drawl says "Look at this ring my husband gave me. Isn't it nice?" To which the other woman replies, "Oh that's nice, that's real nice."

The first woman then says , "And just last month he took me on one of them Caribbean cruises." The second woman again replies, "Oh that's nice, that's real nice."

"Well sweetheart doesn't your husband ever buy you nice things or send you nice places?"

"Oh", the second woman responds, "When we first got married he did send me to etiquette school."

"Why'd he do that?" the first woman asks.

To which the second fine southern woman replies, "Well you see, before, when someone told me about the jewellery their husband gave them, or the trips he sent her on, I would have just said I don't give a f&%$, but now I say that's nice, that's real nice."

The Talking Clock

While proudly showing off his new apartment to friends, a college student led the way into the den.

"What is the big brass gong and hammer for?" one of his friends asked.

"That is the talking clock," the man replied.

"How's it work?"

"Watch," the man said and proceeded to give the gong an ear shattering pound with the hammer. Suddenly, someone screamed from the other side of the wall, "Knock it off, you idiot! It's two o'clock in the morning!"

Saturday Silliness

Another day of silliness...

That's Nice, That's Real Nice

One day these two fine southern ladies were sittin' on the front porch having some iced tea. One of the women sticks out her hand for the other woman to see, and in her long southern drawl says "Look at this ring my husband gave me. Isn't it nice?" To which the other woman replies, "Oh that's nice, that's real nice."

The first woman then says , "And just last month he took me on one of them Caribbean cruises." The second woman again replies, "Oh that's nice, that's real nice."

"Well sweetheart doesn't your husband ever buy you nice things or send you nice places?"

"Oh", the second woman responds, "When we first got married he did send me to etiquette school."

"Why'd he do that?" the first woman asks.

To which the second fine southern woman replies, "Well you see, before, when someone told me about the jewellery their husband gave them, or the trips he sent her on, I would have just said I don't give a f&%$, but now I say that's nice, that's real nice."

The Talking Clock

While proudly showing off his new apartment to friends, a college student led the way into the den.

"What is the big brass gong and hammer for?" one of his friends asked.

"That is the talking clock," the man replied.

"How's it work?"

"Watch," the man said and proceeded to give the gong an ear shattering pound with the hammer. Suddenly, someone screamed from the other side of the wall, "Knock it off, you idiot! It's two o'clock in the morning!"

Friday, November 23, 2012

Sunny Side Up

“If loving someone is putting them in a straitjacket and kicking them
down a flight of stairs, then yes, I have loved a few people.”
― Jarod Kintz, It Occurred to Me -

This week's sunny side up features this hilarious video (it will really hit home if you've seen the movie 'Inception').

Enjoy the weekend!

Book It - The Goldfish Went On Vacation

This week’s featured book:

The Goldfish Went On Vacation
Author: Patty Dann


The moment when Patty Dann’s husband was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer, she felt as though the ground had dropped out beneath her. Her grief, however, was immediately interrupted by the realization that she would have to tell their three-year-old son, Jake, that his father was dying. The prognosis gave her husband just a year to live. In that short time, the three of them—Patty, Willem, and Jake—would have to find a way to live with the illness and prepare for his death.

Written with disarming honesty, courage, and humor, Patty weaves together a series of vignettes that chart her and Jake’s eventual acceptance of their new family—through coping with the daily challenges, the sorrow, and the uncertainty, as well as embracing the surprising moments of beauty and acceptance. As much about exploring memory as it is about appreciating the moment, this captivating narrative will serve as a genuine comfort to anyone surprised by grief.

My Comments:

I don’t pick up memoirs very often, and when I happen to, it’s usually because someone has recommended it, or because it’s immensely popular. Neither was the case with this story. I’d never heard of it. No one had suggested it. I honestly don’t remember how I happened upon it. But – no matter how – it grabbed my attention (the title, at first; then the story) and I decided to give it a try.

This is a bittersweet and painfully honest story about love and loss. The author writes movingly about the loss of her husband, her struggle to help her young son deal with losing his father and her struggle to cope with everything. It’s not a very long memoir, but it leaves you with a lot to think about, and provides the reader with insight on how children and adults grieve.

If you’ve ever lost someone close to your heart, this memoir will really move you.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

At The Toronto Zoo (Part 3)

This is the third and final installment of photos from The Toronto Zoo. I hope to return for another visit in 2013 to take a lot more pictures, particularly of the animals we didn’t get a chance to see. And because the zoo is planning to bring in some pandas in the spring.

We start this post with photos of Grevy’s Zebra; the largest living wild equid. Compared to other zebras, this one has larger ears and narrower stripes. It can be found in southern and eastern Ethiopia, and northern Kenya.

Because of certain threats like hunting for skin and meat, and the loss of grazing habitat and access to water, amongst other things, there has been a 70% reduction in population size in the last 30 years.

Up next is one of the best sightings of the day: the Masai giraffe. This is the tallest animal in the world, ranging in height from 3.8 to 5.5 metres (12.5 – 18 feet), and weighing up to two tonnes. It can be found in the southern half of Kenya and Tanzania.

"How's the weather down there?"
The Masai giraffe was a very curious animal. It walked right up to the people and – literally – looked down on them. That inquisitive nature gave photographers like myself a wonderful opportunity for some interesting photographs.

It took awhile to find out that the bird below is the White-breasted cormorant, which can be found in Sub-Saharan Africa. Next time I photograph animals at zoos and such places, I will also photograph the signs near them informing the public of what type of creature it is. Live and learn...

Can a visit to the zoo be complete without penguins? Never. Below are images of the African penguin, an endangered species found on the coast and islands of southern Africa and Namibia. Disappointingly enough, but not surprising, the greatest threat to these birds comes from humans.

According to the zoo’s website: “The present population is probably less than 10% of that in 1900, when there was estimated to be about 1.5 million birds on Dassen Island alone. By 1956 the population had fallen to roughly half that in 1900, and had halved again by the late 1970s, when there was an estimated 220,000 adult birds. By the late 1980s the number had dropped to about 194,000 and in the early 1990s there was an estimated 179,000 adult birds.” Efforts are being made to protect this interesting animal from extinction. Let’s hope they’re successful.

Below is the Pink-backed pelican, and although by no means is it a small bird with its wingspan of about 2.4 metres (8 feet), it is considered small compared to other pelicans. This bird is native to sub-Saharan Africa, where it is usually found in swamps and shallow lakes. It is believed to have formerly been found in Madagascar, but it is now extinct on that island.

The brightly-coloured bird in the image below is the Scarlet Ibis, a bird with protected status around the world that can be found in tropical South America and islands of the Caribbean. Occasionally, the Scarlet Ibis wanders into Central America, and it has been introduced to southern U.S.A. This is the national bird of Trinidad, and it is featured on the present-day coat of arms of Trinidad and Tobago along with Tobago's national bird, the Cocrico.

Next is the Female White-Faced Saki (the male has the characteristic white face for which the species is named), which can be found in Brazil, French Guiana, Guyana, Suriname and Venezuela. This species lives in the understory and lower canopy of the forest, feeding mostly on fruits, but also eating nuts, seeds, and insects. White-Faced Saki pairs often mate for life, and are very devoted. One way they strengthen their bond is by grooming each other.

Up next is the American Alligator (sometimes referred to as a gator), a large crocodilian reptile endemic to the Southeastern United States. No matter how you feel about this animal, one thing’s for sure: it is a keystone species. That means that it’s an animal that plays a unique and crucial role in the way an ecosystem functions. At one point it was endangered, but both the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and state wildlife agencies in the South contributed to its recovery. Let’s hope it continues to be that way because the ecosystem that this animal plays a key role in would be dramatically different or cease to exist altogether should the American Alligator become extinct.

Below is the Reticulate gila monster that grows to about two feet along. It is venomous, but because – thankfully – it’s a slow-moving lizard, it poses very little danger to humans. But despite its sluggish nature and minimal threat, it has earned a fearsome reputation in the Southwestern United States and northwestern Mexican state of Sonora where it can be found. Urban sprawl and habitat destruction has affected Gila monster numbers, and as a result, this lizard is now protected by Arizona and Nevada state law. It is illegal to "harass, harm, pursue, hunt, shoot, wound, kill, trap, capture, or collect the Gila Monster."

This is the Midland painted turtle, the most widespread native turtle of North America. It can be found in slow-moving fresh waters from southern Canada to Louisiana and northern Mexico, and from the Atlantic to the Pacific. And it can be found posing happily for photographers like me, as you can see from the image below.

"Hey, wassup?"

There was no way to miss getting a glimpse of the striking birds below with all the shrieking and screeching they were doing. The blue and yellow macaw can be found in tropical South America from eastern Panama through parts of Columbia, Ecuador and northern Peru, south through Venezuela and Brazil to Bolivia, Paraguay and Argentina.

The scarlet macaw is found in southern Mexico, Central America, and South America. In South America, the species is found as far south as northeastern Argentina. It is most common throughout the Amazon basin.

Did you think this series would end without a photo of a flamingo? The following image is of an American flamingo; it has the brightest plumage of all the flamingo species with its deep pink colouring. This vibrant bird is common throughout the Caribbean, especially in the Bahamas and Cuba, as well as along the Caribbean coast of Mexico and in Central America. It is the only species of this bird found in North America.

We end the Toronto Zoo posts with the star of the whole excursion, and one of my most beloved animals: the polar bear; the largest land carnivore in the world, matched only by very large individual Kodiak brown bears. It is circumpolar in distribution, inhabiting all Arctic seas and coastlines.

I could have sat for hours watching this animal swimming, clearly enjoying being in the water while doing the backstroke. Such an amazing swimmer, too.

Polar bears are threatened by global warming. They rely on sea ice as a platform from which to hunt for food. When ice does not form or forms too late in the season, some polar bears die of starvation. Scientists in Hudson Bay have found that a main cause of death for cubs is lack of food or lack of fat on nursing mothers.

Exploitation of minerals and fossil fuels in the polar bear’s environment also poses a threat. Twenty percent of oil and natural gas deposits are located in the Arctic, and as ice caps recede, they become more accessible. As a result, countries are competing for ownership of the area and its resources, which will inevitably have further impact on this animal’s habitat. A sad state of affairs for this beautiful creature.

This is one of the most beautiful animals in the world. How sad it would be if it became extinct.

That concludes the zoo series. I thank you for taking the time to look through each post as I realize that every one of them has been quite long. But many of these animals are in danger, and as far as I’m concerned, they merit more than just a few photos and a paragraph or two, particularly because it is our species that poses the biggest threat to their survival. My faith in humanity is shattered whenever I dig deep into the horrible things we do to the vulnerable creatures amongst us, but I do hope that we continue to evolve and do right by these animals by learning to share this planet with them. Selflessly. They have as much right to be here as we do.

See also:
At The Toronto Zoo (Part 1)
At The Toronto Zoo (Part 2)

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

At The Toronto Zoo (Part 2)

So today we continue with part two of photos from The Toronto Zoo, and a little bit of information about some of the animals.

We start with the Pygmy hippopotamus, which is found primarily in Liberia, but also in the neighbouring countries of Sierra Leone, Guinea and the Ivory Coast, although in smaller numbers. This hippo is less aquatic than the river type, and spends most of its time on land. It’s also nocturnal in nature, sleeping the day away happily until it begins to forage during late evening to about midnight. You’d never guess that it likes to snooze the day away by this photo that was taken in early afternoon, would you? [snort]

The next image was taken in the Great Barrier Reef Exhibit, which is within the Australasia Pavilion. There were oodles of amazing photo opportunities, but because it was so busy in there, I was limited to a couple of pictures (and a lot of disappointment). I will have to spend more time in that pavilion on my next visit...even if it means elbowing a few people. (Only slightly joking...)

Below are a couple of images of Indian peafowls, birds that you’ll find roaming freely around the park. I’d hoped to capture a photo of one of these pretty creaturies with its feathers spread out, but it just didn’t happen for me.

Did you know that this is the national bird of India? I had no idea. And did you also know that although this bird is simply called a peacock that it only applies to the male? Yup. Apparently, the females are known as peahens and the young are called peachicks.

Below are images of the heavily-armoured West African dwarf crocodile, the smallest extant crocodile species in the world, attaining a medium adult length of about 2 metres (6.5 feet).

In the wild, this dwarf crocodile can be found in smaller bodies of water (ponds, creeks, backwaters) throughout West Africa.

The West African dwarf crocodile is nocturnal and generally solitary, although it will tolerate living in close proximity to another if need be.

For the most part, the visit at the zoo was enjoyable from a photographer’s point of view, but I must confess that my heart was a little heavy that day seeing animals ‘behind bars’. That really hit home when my husband said “There is nothing sadder than a gorilla in captivity.” There really isn’t.

This is the Western lowland gorilla, a subspecies of the western gorillas. It lives in montane, primary, and secondary forests and lowland swamps in central Africa in Angola, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Congo, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Equatorial Guinea and Gabon, and it is the gorilla usually found in zoos.

As is the case with many animals, humans are the primary threat to the survival of gorillas. Surprise, surprise...

Another sad sight of an animal in captivity is the African elephant in the images below; the largest land mammal on earth. It can be found throughout sub-Saharan Africa and the rain forests of central and West Africa.

The Toronto Zoo states on its website that “the African Elephant faces an uncertain future. Although many exist in Africa, unregulated and/or illegal trade in ivory could lead to their demise. Human encroachment and the conversion of habitat to farmlands are also serious threats to their survival. In addition, elephant/human conflict is on the rise. They are known to have become nationally extinct in Burundi, Gambia, and Mauritania.”

As I work on these posts, I am repeatedly reminded of how much damage us humans do in this world, and how many animals we have driven, and continue to drive, into extinction. Our behaviour as a species is truly shameful.

Next, we have the river hippopotamus, which is the 3rd largest land mammal after the elephant and white rhino. It can be found in Africa, south of the Sahara to Namibia and South Africa. Its habitat consists of ponds, lakes, rivers and wallows during the day, and grasslands and forests at night.

A hippo spends most of its day in the water, and it can stay under water longer than 15 minutes, so if it has just submerged itself when you click on that camera, you’ll have to wait awhile for that photo opportunity (something I learned that day).

Did you also know that a hippo has webbed feet? I didn’t either. That’s pretty cool. When it’s completely submerged, a reflex action ensures that the nostrils and the ears are closed by muscular valves as soon as they come into contact with the water.

When the animal does finally emerge air in the lungs is expelled in an explosive burst as soon the surfaces is reached, and the ears are wagged to clear them of water. A hippo sleeps underwater, and it resurfaces to breathe as automatically as breathing itself. Simply fascinating.

Since we’ve covered the first and third largest land animals, we may as well cover the second, which is the white rhino in the photo below. In the early 20th century, white rhinos were almost at the edge of extinction, but, after years of protection and many translocations, they have made a substantial comeback. Sizeable populations are found in various national parks, state protected areas, and private reserves. The main threat to their survival guessed it...humans!

The animal below is the snow leopard, which can be found in the mountains of twelve countries across Central Asia. There are between 4,000 and 6,500 of these endangered big cats left in the wild. And cnce again, it is human activities that pose a serious threat to this beautiful cat and its habitat. Truly sad.

We end today’s Toronto Zoo post with the capybara; the largest rodent in the world. It stands about two feet tall, and is native to South America. It inhabits savannas and dense forests, and lives near bodies of water. Its closest relatives are agouti, chinchillas, coyphillas, and guinea pigs. It is a highly social species and can be found in groups as large as 100, although it usually lives in groups of 10 – 20. And you’re worried about finding a little mouse in your home? Imagine an infestation of capybaras? [shudder]

Come back tomorrow for the final installment of the zoo series...

See also:
At The Toronto Zoo (Part 1)
At The Toronto Zoo (Part 3)