Land of the Lions

bearded piglangurLondon Zoo: The bearded pigs, Sus barbatus, are native to Borneo, Sumatra, Malaysia and the Philippines. This morning they’re pushing around chunky plastic feeders, a little larger than a football, which are dispensing food amongst the wood chip of the enclosure. This gives the pigs a lot more entertainment than gathering around a trough. Occasionally one of the feeders will pass from one pig to another with, presumably, the pig which is higher in the pecking order winning the prize.langur

In the evocatively designed Land of Lions, a langur monkey relaxes in the top of dead tree in a convincing replica of  the dry scrubby Gir Forest Reserve in India.

The vegetable samosas from the street food vendor in the zoo’s colourful version of Sasan Gir village are equally convincing.

pelicanspelicanWhite pelicans are sitting together resting but they spring to life when a keeper appears with a bucket of fish. They each save several fish for later consumption in their pouches. Two herons have been hanging around and they’re also successful in grabbing a fish each. I think of herons as being one of our largest birds but compared to the pelicans they’re lightweights.

tigertigerThe Sumatran tigers have two small cubs. One tiger – the male I guess – checks out the perimeter while the other stays with the cubs in a shrubby corner of the Tiger Territory enclosure.

Link: Land of the Lions, Zoological Society of London. For my Royal College of Art degree show in June 1975 I produced a hand-coloured print of the Victorian Lion House at the London Zoo which was then scheduled for demolition. At the suggestion of my tutor John Norris Wood, I sold the print in aid of the conservation of Asiatic lions at the Gir Forest Reserve. I remember thinking that some day I might get to the Gir Forest with my sketchbook. Visiting Land of the Lions has been the next best thing!