Today was doubly lucky for me as I got to meet with one of my long-time blogger friends, Mooselet, and visit the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary!
Koalas, like most animals, are adorable when they're babies. Unlike most animals, koalas stay adorable no matter how old they get. So, as you can imagine, visiting a sanctuary which has 104 koalas on the premises is guaranteed cuteness overload.
And it didn't disappoint.
I've seen koalas in zoos before, but at a distance and in a very different setting. The experience you get at Lone Pine Koala sanctuary is something entirely different...
Koalas are mostly nocturnal, so you see a lot of sleepy guys in the daytime.
Baby koalas are, as you'd expect, a veritable explosion of cuteness.
This guy is about as relaxed as you can get when it comes to sleeping in a tree.
Everybody starts to wake up.
Baby koalas get to hitch a ride wherever they go. Must be nice.
Looks kind of like he might be koala surfing on momma there.
Koala cuddle cluster. You find yourself saying "Awwwwww!" a lot at this place.
Talk about cute overload! (I'm the one on the left).
Lone Pine has more than just koalas though... they've got all kinds of animals, reptiles, and birds around...
Crocodiles have a killer smile.
RUN, TURTLE! RUN YOU FOOL!
Tasmanian Devils, which I just love, are highly endangered and will be extinct in the wild soon.
Wombats are too adorable. Like fuzzy piglets or something.
Feeding a kangaroo. They're amazingly polite about it.
A wallaby and a kangaroo hanging out.
A momma kangaroo with a joey in the pocket!
Joey on the lookout.
I CAN HAZ CRUNCHY FOOD PELLETS? NOM! NOM! NOM!
Soggy bats try to sleep through the rain.
After rain broke out at the koala sanctuary in yet another bizarre weather change (there were flawless blue skies when I arrived this morning), Mooselet was nice enough to drive me up Mount Coot-tha for a look over the city...
After lunch, the rain started letting up, which made for a nicer view of Brisbane...
Pretty much the perfect way to spend a vacation day... thanks for coming along, Mooselet!
And so here I am at Comic-Con International 2010 or, as I refer to it, "The Bastion of Cruelty."
Make no mistake, Comic Con is not fun. At least, not the kind of fun you're used to. It's fun in an entirely different way, where the suffering is what makes it fun. Because once you've endured the crowds, the endless lines, the expensive food, and the many opportunities for bitter disappointment... what you have left is fun that you've earned. Which makes it just that much sweeter, of course.
I wrote in-depth about my Comic-Con experience when I was here last time, and this year is more of the same, so I won't bore you with another extensive recap... just a few things I took away from my half-day at the event...
• As expected, AT&T's service was complete and total shit. A lot of the time I couldn't get even remotely useable bandwidth speeds, which was still better than the many times I couldn't get service at all. Never mind that 3G service was absent more often than not and I was kicked back to EDGE, a huge chunk of my battery was spent just trying to get something... anything I could work with so that I could TXT or make a call...
Now, granted, 150,000 people all in one spot is bound to overload a cellular network, but I wasn't expecting things to be this bad. I wonder if Verizon and T-Mobile were in the same boat? Probably.
• Just like last year, Comic-Con was drastically oversold. There's just entirely too many people, which means that even if you stand in a line for hours, you're still not guaranteed that there will be room for you in the venue. I sure wish that the people running this thing would find a way to make this more fair so you don't wait in line for nothing... though I suppose if they eliminated lines and went with tickets or something, then all the people in line would be clogging up the show floor, so maybe that's why they don't.
• While I am excited about a number of movies being promoted at the Con, including Scott Pilgrim, which is based on a comic I really like, it's TRON: Legacy that has me freaking out. I loved the original film, and the sequel looks like it will absolutely amazing. If nothing else, the new LightBikes are cool...
• Just like two years ago, I had three comics people I wanted to see on the dealer floor. Eric Shanower, Sergio Aragonés, and Brandon Peterson. Shanower was easy to find, still promoting Age of Bronze, his epic retelling of the Trojan War in comic book form. Aragonés, whose work in MAD Magazine I've loved since I was a kid, was signing his latest Groo The Wanderer collection...
Peterson I COULD NOT FIND! Not from the booth number he gave at his website (which, so far as I could tell), didn't exist. Nor from his description of the area he'd be at. He had a new artbook I wanted to get too. Bummer.
• Speaking of comic books... it truly shocks me when I walk by the booth of some titan of the industry and see that nobody is there to see them. They've long since been replaced by some hot new talent, and now they've been forgotten as if their work doesn't matter. I guess it's just a facet of the industry, like all industries, but it just doesn't seem right.
• The costumes this year were better than ever, though I'm ashamed to admit that my favorite costume I saw wasn't super-hero related. It was Dr. Rockzo from Metalocalypse! "MY NAME IS DR. ROCKZO! I DO COCAINE!!
It's more fun to see people dressed up outside the convention. Like your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man, walking down the street...
• After four hours, I had as much as I could take, and decided to get as far away from the crowds as possible. I hadn't been to the San Diego Zoo in decades, so that seemed like a good place. It's a remarkable zoo... probably the best I have ever seen... and it just keeps improving. The sheer volume of animals you can see it pretty impressive...
And lest we forget... they have THE BUCKETS OF DEATH available...
And that's pretty much it. I met up with quite a few friends and bloggers along the way, which was truly the highlight of my Comic-Con experience. I'd take that over meeting movie stars and comic book heroes any day.
All that's left is a redeye flight across the country, and my day is done...
I have mixed feelings about animals being held in captivity for entertainment value.
For the most part, I'm against it. I see animals chained up at the circus or animals trapped behind glass at the zoo, and can't imagine that this is an acceptable way to treat them. These animals aren't living, they're existing, and that's a pretty big difference. Even when the people keeping the animals insist that they're receiving the best of care and are safer than they would be in the wild... or if they're of the mind that the animals don't know any better and only understand about getting fed... well, it's still a far cry from living in the wild.
But... "the wild" isn't what it used to be.
Jungles are being deforested. Glaciers are melting. Rivers, lakes, and oceans are polluted. Natural habitats are being dozed over to make room for condominiums. Pretty soon, there won't be much "wild" for animals to live in.
So... what to do?
The only way to insure the survival of a growing number of species is to raise them in captivity. And not all zoos are created equal. A growing number of zoos are going above and beyond to recreate the natural habitats of the animals living in captivity. The San Diego Zoo has been working on this for years, and others are following suite.
Then there's Disney's Animal Kingdom, where they've really put in the effort in recreating an animal's environment. And today they announced the birth of a critically endangered gorilla who might not have even had a chance in the hostile world we live in...
Now THAT'S an adorable baby!
But then there's the other side of the coin. Dangerous animals kept in captivity where it's easy to believe that we're the one's in control. We're the ones making the decisions. We're the ones making the rules.
And it makes for good family entertainment...
Until we receive a very real reminder that the animals are, in fact, still animals.
The tragedy at Sea World comes as a shock... but really shouldn't. The shocking things is that things like this don't happen more often.
And again, it's hard for me to sort out my feelings here. On one hand, animals as entertainment is not something I'm ever going to be comfortable with. On the other hand, the money Sea World gets from the entertainment goes towards their substantial efforts in education, conservation, rescue, and preservation.
So... what to do?
I guess there's nothing we really can do except BELIEVE it will all work out somehow...
I wonder what this all means for those of us who have been indoctrinated into the Cult of Shamu?