Something I learned just today: Turtles are evolved for stupid--if you spend your life making rapid and deep dives, you don't want a lot of blood rushing to the brain. Something else I learned: some people kill hummingbirds, perhaps accidentally, by spiking their feeder water with Sweet-n-Low. And something else: a good meal for a cheetah would be about the size of the average sixth grader. And one more: the naked mole rat can live up to 30 years, but every morning he has to wake up and say "oh crap, I'm still a naked mole rat."
Such are the joys of surveying the Washington DC zoo in the company of a couple of adolescents, bigger than a sixth grader but seemingly as fast as a gazelle, at least as long as they keep inhaling 8,000 calorie a day. Indeed I spent most of my day feeling like the old servant in the Chekhov play, bleating "wait for me" and hoping I wouldn't be locked in and forgotten at the end of the final act. We saw just about everything, including the bird net. We even saw the cuccaberra who sat in the old gum tree and mocked us: nyaa nyaa nyaa. We tried mocking back: You wait, cuccaberra, you'll get yours! Cuccaberrra was not impressed: Nyaa! Excuse enough, I should say, to come back another day.