I am Schnappi, the little Crocodile*…

Annual Trip 2021 to Dublin Zoo, July 23

It was the first time I had to organise anything like this and it was a bit of a learning curve.

But apart from two little hiccups on both ends it went quite well, and for me it was nice to be back at the Zoo after about 10 years.

The last time I had been it was a little cooler, so most of the animals were a bit more active, and most of the apes and monkeys had just had babies of their own. They were a lot of fun to watch playing in their outside areas. If you’re wondering what the difference is – monkeys are a little smaller and have tails, apes (think Chimps, Gorillas & Orangs) are generally bigger and tail-less.

When we had arrived, after a briefing on the bus and handing out Zoo maps and the Zoo-mandments (and yes, there were 10).

At 11 am the Groups and Members Gate opened to let us in.

All the indoor areas were closed, so we didn’t get to see any crocodiles, from the Nile or anywhere else – or snakes and spiders for that matter. (*The title to this piece is a cute little children’s song that was popular in Germany a few years ago – yes, it’s in German, but the video (even if not entirely scientifically accurate) illustrates the words nicely, so have a look.)

After about one hour we were already half way through and I thought ‘If we keep going at this rate, we’ll be out by 2.’. Naturally, it didn’t turn out that way. My friend and I certainly needed a break after that walk, and we had brought a nice picnic between us. And tea.

So after that lovely break we continued our exploration of the Zoo’s different habitats all connected by a lovely and mostly shaded trail on a one-way system, because of CoViD. There was a little breeze blowing, so it didn’t get too hot. The maps certainly came in handy, so no one missed their favourites – unless they were inside the Houses or hiding in the shade.

Once we had reached the African Plains, an unlikely thing happened (you might even call it impossible) – I looked across the enclosure and didn’t see the Rhinos right in front of me. There were a few of them in the mud bath – which they use for cooling down and sun protection – and their top halves blended in perfectly with the ground around them. I only noticed them when another visitor mentioned them and they had gotten out of the mud so their legs and bellies were a little darker. (Most people would think sitting at the back in school would be the best place if you had mischief in mind, but the front is actually better for that, because the teacher looks over you.)

The African Plains were nice, because as would happen in the wild there were a number of different animals – Zebras, Giraffes, Sabre-horned Oryxes, Ostriches and Rhinos – sharing the area. All of them prefer different foods at different levels, so there’s always enough for everyone. The Giraffes were my favourite of that lot. I would have loved to see the Meerkats, but they were probably in one of the houses. Of course, they can’t have lions there among the others – the Zoo’s lions are Asian, not African, at any rate – because that’s not allowed. It might be interesting to see, but also quite disturbing for the younger visitors, so I’m fine just seeing it on tv.

The Sea Lions, Californian in this case, are always popular, and the Dublin lot were no exception. There were two females showing off a bit in their swimming pool. One was doing a backstroke and splashing water with her flippers – unfortunately not far enough to reach us. It would have been welcome. Both of them enjoyed diving and could also be seen in the underwater viewing area. It was fun watching them for while. 

While everyone has a different favourtie, the big cats seem to be popular with most people. And one of them was my highlight of the day. I was quite surprised to not only see the Snow Leopard – he usually lives in the Himalayas where it is considerably colder – not only outside, but moving around as well. Very briefly, he probably just needed a stretch, but long enough to get a few nice pictures and a little video. I had managed to zoom him right out from his hiding place the last time I was there, so I like him. (My favourite non-house cats are the Scottish Wildcat (very rare) and the Lynx (they once used to live in Germany) which is my Patronus.) I missed the Amur Tiger, but the male Asian lion decided to have a little walk around as well and let out a few roars. Some keepers entered the area soon after, so it may have been feeding time.

The lions were right at the end, We were supposed to meet inside the Zoo, at Meeting Point B right outside the shop, before leaving.  Thanks, Cody for letting everyone know where we were. We got everyone back in one piece, so they all seem to have followed the rules.

Pictures will be posted to our Facebook page over the next few weeks, so keep an eye out.
Now to decide what we can do for next year’s annual trip. If you have any suggestions, please let us know at info@trimfrc.ie