Berlin Zoo

Day 20, Saturday, September 14, 2019

It is a beautiful sunny day, a perfect day to go to the zoo. I liked this large sculpture at the subway station near Potsdam Platz. It looks like wood but I think maybe it is cast to resemble wood.

We were here before but I wanted to get a photo of Bob with one foot in what used to be East Berlin and one foot in West Berlin. The cobble stone line marks where the Berlin Wall used to stand. Another view of the very unique Sony Centre. We catch the 100 Bus to the zoo near here. First stop at the Berlin Zoo is the Panda enclosure. Unfortunately we don’t get to see any real pandas but there is a video of Meng Meng and her new babies. You can watch it here.

We have our picnic lunch on a bench near this fountain. It reminds me of the famous Manneken Pis fountain in Brussels. I love blue flowers and these are gorgeous, but no idea what they are called.  Does anyone know?
The Berlin Zoo is Germany’s oldest zoological garden and home to the world’s largest variety of species. Almost 20,000 animals of around 1,300 species live in the 33 hectare zoo. For some reason at least 19,000 of them were in hiding today!!  Here are some of the animals who were kind of enough to stay in view for us. This large male Mandrill monkey has formidable teeth. The Emperor Tamarin has to be one of the cutest monkeys I have ever seen. The baboons were tucked far away in the rocks but I zoomed in for a photo.This young man was engrossed in his book, and not interested in the animals at all. I tried to see what he was reading but the title was small and in German.
Bob found a friend.
This African porcupine was up nice and close, finishing off his lunch. Luckily the elephants were out and about. This is Victor, a 26 year old bull, and a female from his harem.
She came over to say hi, extending her trunk out towards me! I took lots of reference photos of the elephants and spent a bit of time sketching them live.

These are the other two females in Victor’s harem.  Each day he chooses who to hang out with in a separate enclosure.  The young elephant is Victor’s daughter. I love giraffes too, but they were a bit too far away to easily see and draw.Look carefully.  How many Asiatic Ibex can you spot in this photo?  Can you find all nine of them? When our oldest daughter was about three years old she kissed on of these Marmots on the nose!  He was standing up on a stone retaining wall and she just walked up to it and gave it a peck.  Kind of scared us though! In the hippo exhibit this big fellow opened his mouth wide and made a huge splash before sinking out of sight.  Perhaps his way of letting all the visitors know what he thought of them?  The Nyalas are interesting with their distinctive white stripes. There were several sloth bears but they were all in separate enclosures. Perhaps they aren’t very sociable. This fellow was pacing back and forth continuously. We saw several animals exhibiting repetitive behaviours which we know is a sign of stress from being in captivity.  That is hard to see but this zoo, like many others we have visited, is building bigger more natural habitats for their animals.  We also see attempts to keep animals engaged with different ways of offering them their food and ‘toys’ for them in their enclosures.  It is a trade off.  Without the protection and breeding programs of zoos some of these animals would perhaps be extinct. We saw lots of Gemsbok when we were in South Africa. It was amazing to see them in their natural habitat. I have soft spot in my heart for zebras. Just love their stripes!This was a new species for us, the Mountain Bongo.  Their legs seemed too small for the bulk of their bodies, but they were very striking, with their white stripes agains their reddish hides. There are only 100 of these animals left in the wild!  Interesting fact…the red pigment in their hides can bleed in the rain! I forgot to take a photo of the main gate when we arrived but took one of the side gate where we exited the zoo.

Michelangelo’s David

Day 66, Thursday, November 9, 2017

We arrived at the Galleria Dell’Accademia with our tickets for 11:15 and a very kind guard let us in a half hour early.  Our first view of David is pretty wonderful.We walk past Michelangelo’s ‘prisoners’ forever trapped in their unfinished state, on our way to David. There are a lot of people but we take a photo, me and David!

David is even more spectacular than I remember from our visit in 1980, although when we were last here there was no barrier between us and the statue. Of course that was before someone took hammer to David’s left foot!

This 17 foot tall masterpiece is mesmerizing. I sit and draw David. It is still a bit intimidating to sit in public and draw, but people were very kind and very curious about what I was doing. I was aware that there was usually someone standing behind me, watching and taking photos and many people came up to talk to me and ask if it was OK to take a picture. One lady went and got her parents to come meet me and another woman looked at my drawing and said “God Bless You!” Bob wandered off to an exhibit of musical instruments so that I had time to sit and draw. We spend a bit of time going through the rest of the museum. This room full of plaster casts was amazing.There are several more rooms with beautiful iconographic paintings… and a fifteen foot long embroidered altar cloth for the main altar of the Santa Maria Novella Church from 1336. This was the work of one man. I can’t even imagine how long it would take to completely cover such a large cloth in the embroidered stitches.

In the evening I attend a life drawing session at the Florence Academy of Art in the evening. I planned on arriving early to introduce myself and get settled, however our bus was almost 40 minutes late so I arrive about 15 minutes late. That was quite stressful. I decided to ‘christen’ the nice new sketchbook that I bought in Venice.Unfortunately I also had to leave a half hour early because there was going to be a transportation strike starting at 9:00 and it is too far to walk home.  I still enjoyed the session even though I wasn’t all that happy with my drawing.  I met a couple very nice artists, including a woman from Smithers B.C. who was attending a six-week workshop at the Academy.