I have to confess that despite the tyre changing obsession which Katie describes in her latest Blog from Etosha I empathise with those who are envious of her day job!
The location of mine is arguably less glamorous, but I was fortunate enough that it required me to visit Berlin last weekend where I leaped at the opportunity to visit Florian Sicks (Kurator für Säugetiere - Curator of Mammology) at Berlin's Tierpark. We met at the Giraffe Indaba last July in Namibia where Florian gave an excellent presentation (in English too, extremely impressed by that alone!) on giraffe sleeping patterns, the subject of his PhD thesis, follow this link to read more…
Winter is always a good time to visit any zoo as the cold weather normally keeps the visitor numbers to a minimum (selfish I know, but..!). And eastern Germany in January fully vindicates this theory. With temperatures at minus 4 and the added bonus of a delightfully refreshing (some may say penetrating!) east wind, we were almost entirely alone in Europe's largest zoological garden - marvellous! And what an honour it was too.
No matter how many giraffe I've collared, darted or just photographed and studied, I am always surprised at how surprised I am when I'm reminded just how enormous they are! (Make sense?) And it happened again when Florian took us behind the scenes and formally introduced us to the Tierpark's herd of Rothschild's (G. c. rothschildi) whose wild population have recently been recognised and categorised as endangered by the IUCN. But if it was a reminder for me I need not describe the impression it made on my wife and our 3 year old who were quite overawed by the huge heads that loomed over them, before out of which came their incredibly long and dextrous tongues to accept the proffered bread roles. Quite breathtaking, and, between you and me, I am quietly confident the next generation of giraffe conservationist has already got the bug!!
Giraffe feeding complete, Florian and I took ourselves off to continue our discussions of a nation-wide PR/education programme, aimed at bringing the plight of the giraffe to the attention of the German public, and which will be designed to compliment GCF's broader global strategy. Much more to come and we'll keep you informed. But what was particularly heartening was the reaction I received in Berlin following the press GCF had recently received (in well over 200 publications across the world - the majority of which it must be reiterated, accurately reflected the facts and the details of the interview as given, but unfortunately the more sensational accounts understandably created a great deal of emotion and confusion). Thankfully the German press were among those applying balance and accuracy and it gives me great pleasure to report back so positively about GCF's standing in Germany and the feedback I received.
Now back to the day job (reading Julian’s Blog with another tinge of envy...) where you'll be pleased to know the east wind continues to blow and it is currently minus 13, but I am warmed at least as plans for our 2012 Africa expeditions near completion...