National Zoo, Washington DC - 10/24/04

I'm bad at cropping to show scale, but this hippo was HUGE. In fact, it was actually about the same size as the elephant you saw on the previous page.

This is the capybara. About two feet in height, it's one of the world's largest rodents. By nature of being a two-foot rodent, they are one of the coolest things on the planet earth. As this one's face shows, it's not making a big deal out of it, and I think that's admirable.

A caracal. It's like a puma/cogar thing, only with really long, pointy ears. (It's their most important body part- the zookeeper told me that they have 20 muscles that handle twisting their ears alone.) The caracal's diet apparently includes LSD, because when I came to visit it kept running back and forth in this one three-foot area of a hundred-square-foot-pen. There are actually two caracals at the National Zoo, but they each have a seperate pen because they're one of the most territorial cats in the world. Lo and behold, I turned around, and there was the other caracal, pacing back and forth in a three-foot circle. Even in the jungle, cats are just weird.

I really didn't get a good shot of them, but I had to put up this picture. These birds are called Crested Screamers. They have SPIKES ON THEIR WINGS. South American farmers keep them around because, aside from being able to fend off predators with the SPIKES ON THEIR WINGS, they scream like banshees when startled, making them effective birglar alarms. They're quite possibly the coolest birds I've ever seen. SPIKES. ON THEIR WINGS.

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