We did indeed go to the Torranga Zoo the other day, seeing all manner of unique Australian animals and regular old run-of-the-mill zoo animals as well. Curiously, among all the crazy animals I'd never seen before was a neat network of waterways which allowed these giant koi to swim unfettered throughout the whole park. At every exhibit there was some crazy marsupial to gaze upon, but there I'd be, snapping pics of the koi and generally being enamored with them. I guess I like koi.
In addition to waterways, one other feature pervaded most of the park: trees and shrubbery. In Australia, trees and shrubs mean spiders; all it would take is a casual glance around and one would see gigantic webs, pretty much everywhere. Most of said webs were both slightly above head-height AND filled with the kind of spiders about which American spiders have nightmares.
(In fact, I've decided to rename "nightmares" to "night'nids." I just seems more appropriate; I don't care how scary some horse is -- it's just a freakin' horse. We're talking about spiders who routinely eat BIRDS. Show me a horse that eats birds and I'll gladly change it back to "nightmares." If you could make a note of this and begin changing your usage, I'd be much obliged.)
The few webs NOT containing spiders were somewhat comforting, of-times causing one to exhale with relief. Until, that is, you realize that a spider-less web means that you HAVE NO IDEA WHERE THE SPIDER IS. Throughout the park, pretty much the only place that DIDN'T have trees and shrubs was in the giraffe habitat. At first I thought this was because the giraffes eat all the plants, but then I realized that it was because giraffes are bloody expensive and the zoo-keepers don't want to have to replace them every time a spider goes and eats one.
Alas, the uploading of images didn't go as well as I was hoping, but one half-way decent shot of a spider made it up before the wifi and my OLPC gave out. The rest may have to wait 'til I get home. Without further ado, here's payment for sitting through my blather:
This guy is big enough to wrap his legs around a kiwi-fruit. See? "Night'nids," right?
Erik tells me that these spiders kill many motorists a year -- not by biting them, mind you, but instead by simply hiding behind vehicle sun-visors, waiting for the driver to casually flip it down. At this point, the motorist can't help but see the spider, whose simple presence terrifies them into driving off the road. This is a story I believe, because the first one I saw about made me go off the path I was on and into the crocodile pit just to avoid walking under it. Better the crocs than those spiders, I say.