Saturday 6 August 2011

London Zoo Penguins

A few weeks ago I went to London Zoo. Only now after a few weeks gone by do I feel able to write about this experience.

We had not been to London Zoo for a few months but had heard that penguins were back and housed in their new enclosure, 'Penguin Island.' Not only was this bigger and better it is the largest of its type in the UK, Europe even! We were excited.

Feeding time was 15 minutes away so we sat down and marvelled at the size of 'Penguin Island' as the little penguins swam around happily in the knowledge that only the United States of America might have something as good. It was the next best thing apart from the wild!

Anticipation was high as two members of staff came out. One had a bucket of small fish and one had a Madonna style headset. Madonna had the enthusiasm of Keith Chegwin and soon had the assembled crowd eating out of her hand. The chap with the bucket started throwing fish and the little penguins eagerly swam, hopped and dived, with the cuteness only little penguins can. It was then things took a turn for the macabre.

As Madonna told us about habitats, diet, where they come from and bucket boy threw fish, I noticed several seagulls circling in low flight overhead. To me it was like one of those westerns where vultures or buzzards circle above the possibly of something terrible happening below.

I am certain that people's attention moved from the penguins to the seagulls. I started to become fearful anticipating what might happen. I did not hear what Madonna was saying and couldn't have cared less what bucket boy was doing. I was terrified and looking skyward. I don't want to be flippant but this must have been what it was like during the blitz.

The first I knew that the inevitable had happened was when a man behind blurted out loudly, 'bloody seagull bastard.' He had taken the full payload from a particularly large Herring Gull. No UXB, a direct hit. I did not turn round as I knew it was a sight no one should see. In addition my wife, one of my children and I had large amounts of shrapnel (for want of a better word) on our coats. This was a sizeable quantity but this was only the splash. What that poor man must have had deposited on him...?

We spent the rest of the show, hoods up cowering in fear. Penguin Island! More like Seagull Shit Island!! Never again will I go to feeding time. For those of you brave enough, you have been warned.

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