Searching for my namesake at the Taronga Zoo

Looking unintentionally mysterious while riding in the Sky Safari at Taronga.

Looking unintentionally mysterious while riding in the Sky Safari at Taronga.

On Twitter, I’m Anatinus. I joined up on March 26 2009, and because my real name was already taken, I grasped at the first thing that came to mind: the platypus I’d seen at the Taronga Zoo: Ornithorhyncus anatinus, which I’ve since embraced as a mascot. This is the icon I use on PowerPoint presentations to clients:

Screen Shot 2012-11-03 at 6.57.33 PM

As it turned out, I was lucky to see the platypus back then, because they’re shy and often not visible in the display area. Today I visited the platypus house three times, and the little buggers failed to show themselves. I had to make do with this toy platypus bought for me at the Taronga Zoo shop by Chris:

Taronga Platypus

Sydney’s weather has been awful this week, and today was no exception. We got soaked despite umbrellas and raincoats, and my backpack had to be dried out before I could begin the process of packing it this evening. This view of Sydney from the Sky Safari (essentially a cable car) gives you an idea. On a sunny day, it’s a spectacular view – Taronga must have one of the most impressive settings of any zoo in the world.

View from Taronga

My second favourite animal was the Goodfellow’s tree kangaroo, which despite a name suggesting a habit of living in, well, trees, seemed completely awkward and terrified of falling as it gingerly made its way across the rope in its enclosure. In the zoo shop, I bought a toy tree kangaroo to add to the already large collection of stuffed animals in the house. Here I am posing with it. You can’t really see it thanks to my crappy iPhone camera, so you’ll have to take me on trust.

Me with tree kangaroo

My favourite animal was this exotic pink species, seen with a close relative in yellow:

Study in pink

I’m a little too tired to do much reflection now, and a little too focused on defying the laws of physics and cramming as much as possible into my stupidly small suitcase. So I don’t feel too disappointed about the fact that I didn’t see the actual animal I’ve come to regard as an accidental totem.

The proper reflection will come in the ebook for Mampoer Shorts, which I’ll be working on next week after I travel to Plettenberg Bay to spend time with family out from the UK. I’d originally planned to stay longer in Australia, but the opportunity to see my new nephew for the first time will lure me back onto a Qantas flight tomorrow. Going through passport control at Sydney will be a big deal for reasons I won’t go into here, but will be exploring in the ebook.

Sometimes, though, it is better not to think too much about things, to open yourself up to experience and not subject it to endless analysis. This isn’t something I’ve ever been able to force myself to do: it either happens or it doesn’t. Luckily, I’ve been in a mostly good space since the second day of our road trip. Something about that long, long road through South Australia calmed me down. Platypus or no platypus, I hope it stays that way.


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