strange behaviors

Cool doings from the natural and human worlds

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    Every Creeping Thing: True Tales of Faintly Repulsive Wildlife: “Conniff is a splendid writer–fresh, clear, uncondescending, and with never a false step; one can’t resist quoting him.” (NY Times Book Review)

    The Species Seekers:  Heroes, Fools, and the Mad Pursuit of Life on Earth by Richard Conniff is “a swashbuckling romp” that “brilliantly evokes that just-before Darwin era” (BBC Focus) and “an enduring story bursting at the seams with intriguing, fantastical and disturbing anecdotes” (New Scientist). “This beautifully written book has the verve of an adventure story” (Wall St. Journal)

    Swimming with Piranhas at Feeding Time by Richard Conniff  is “Hilariously informative…This book will remind you why you always wanted to be a naturalist.” (Outside magazine) “Field naturalist Conniff’s animal adventures … are so amusing and full color that they burst right off the page …  a quick and intensely pleasurable read.” (Seed magazine) “Conniff’s poetic accounts of giraffes drifting past like sail boats, and his feeble attempts to educate Vervet monkeys on the wonders of tissue paper will leave your heart and sides aching.  An excellent read.” (BBC Focus magazine)

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The Megalopolitan Parrot

Posted by Richard Conniff on September 21, 2010

Polishing Pedro's vocabularly

Today’s Wall Street Journal eulogizes an eccentric Des Moines zookeeper named Bob Elgin.  I liked this part:

When Pedro, the zoo’s macaw, became notorious for spouting profanity it learned from workmen at the zoo, Mr. Elgin gave him a cleaned-up vocabulary by reading to him from Oswald Spengler’s “Decline of the West.”

“He’s the most erudite parrot in the world,” including words like transcendental and megalopolitan, Mr. Elgin boasted in an article published nationally.

But I suspect the late Mr. Elgin would not meet the standards of modern zookeeping:

When the zoo experienced vandalism, he set loose the big cats to patrol the zoo grounds at night. He put up a sign on the front gate that read “Trespassers Will Be Eaten,” but told the Associated Press that the animals wouldn’t actually eat intruders, but just “knock them down until help comes.”

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