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Idle Tigers at Toronto Zoo

September 19, 2007



On Sunday I visited Toronto Zoo. The zoo is large, clean, intelligently and ethically arranged, and full of astonishingly beautiful creatures. Of course I’m partial to the aquatic life — the eels and electric fish in particular did something for me. But even I had to admit that sleepy superstar centre of the zoo were the pair of two-month-old Siberian tiger cubs. The babies aren’t called anything yet, and a competition is been held to come up with a winning name for them. I wish I’d been named in a competition.


This led to more scraps for my recording notebook.  My songs are full of animals and fish — actual animals, implied animals, symbolic animals or just animals for their own sake. Without really being conscious of this, I seem to have been drawn to animals whose name suggests a hybridity — tigersharks, catfish. The spider monkeys at the zoo are definitely worth a little pop song at some point in the future. Or is it that I’m interested in the human process, somehow meta-Adamic, or naming one animal through reference to another?
I was hoping to hear a tiger roar, actually, to find out first-hand about their infrasonic vocalizations, with the power to paralyse their prey. I once had a theory, actually, that William Blake was (mystically) a bioacoustician who knew all about the sub-frequencies of a tiger’s roar, and was paralyzed by this idea when writing “The Tyger”. I made this idea the basis of an undergraduate essay that was received with slight applause. These ideas never reached the unacademic tigers at Toronto Zoo.


One Comment leave one →
  1. Brina permalink
    November 30, 2007 3:52 pm

    We were just at the Toronto Zoo for an afternoon and also found Aba Aba, the electric fish, to be mesmerizing. Reading up on the species only makes me more fascinated by him. These are great photos! Thanks!

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