29 December, 2015

A Pygmy Hedgehog, Eagle Owl and Meerkats, It's Zoo2U

Tor with Jelani
A surprise present from my wife by Zoo2U, a family run business which aims at educating children and adults about wildlife. The animals were presented by Tor in a warm, knowledgeable and friendly manner. She was a great at answering all of our questions.

It seems my that my wife booked this visit some time ago and at the time of the booking she was allowed a selection of three animals to be brought to our home.

Pygmy Hedgehog - Thistle
First to put in an appearance was "Thistle" the pygmy hedgehog and it can't be denied that for a hedgehog she's pretty cute. Tor explained that Thistle was actually a cross between  a four toed hedgehog and an African hedgehog. A calm creature that we all took it in turns to hold.

African Eagle Owl - Jelani
"Jelani", an Eagle Owl from central Africa was next, Somewhat smaller than the Eurasian Eagle Owl it is none the less quite big, weighing at just over 1.5Lbs. We were surprised that Tor said he would fly in our living room and wondered if Jelani would be distracted by our Christmas tree, however he behaved impeccably apart from being rather besotted with his own reflection in our window. His wing span was impressive as he silently flew across the room then flared for landing. It's quite noticeable that as with other Eagle Owls he has a brightly coloured yellowish/orange iris, indicating that he mostly diurnal (daytime hunter) and that much of his time is spent perching and waiting for something tasty to come along. By the way owls with dark irises, such as our barn owl are mostly nocturnal and their preferred hunting method is completely different as the fly low over rough grassland searching out their prey.

Meerkat - Kato or is it Leo?
Finally it was time for a pair of meerkats, "Kato" and "Leo", to make a lively showing. Meerkats belong to the mongoose family and also come from Africa (not Russia!).They did have an attraction to one of pot plants and the Christmas tree but could could be quickly brought to order with the rattle of a container of dried meal worms. That was something we learned - meerkats have huge appetites. They had already had two meals that day but soon very quickly gobbled up more meal worms from our hands.

All too soon the visit was over; it was quite an experince having the animals so close and being able talk to their keeper in such a pleasant and informal way. Tor obviously loves to be with the animals and show them off at their best. There's a few more photos in a Zoo2U Facebook Posting and to round things off there's some video below.