Halla and I went to Stockholm via an overnight trip on the Viking Line departing from Turku. Pavel stayed behind with a friend of hers who has had owned a Swedish Vallhund, an East Siberian Laika and a Karelian Bear Dog. The babysitter was delighted to have him as company.
So why Stockholm? We made the plans to go to the Vasa Museum. Unfortunately, we forgot to bring the chargers for the camera-phones, and the snap-and-shoot camera was low on battery. The rest of the day following the Vasa Museum was made up on the spot the night of the departure to Sweden.
Originally we have planned to go to the Stockholm Aquarium, the Butterfly House, Biological Museum, the Royal Armoury and Museum of Science and Technology. However we quickly found out virtually every museum in Stockholm was closed on Monday. So, instead, we went to the Skansen Aquarium and Zoo. The aquarium isn’t really an aquarium, but rather a terrarium.
The photographs are not of very good quality. They were taken with a Samsung Galaxy Nexus with either the default program or one of the filters which comes with Camera 360 software.
The following series is only a small fraction of more than 200 species on exhibition in Skansen. A selected few which intrigued the two of us were selected for the scrapbook.
Hoffmann’s two-toed sloth (Choloepus hoffmanni). Photograph was taken as an inside joke describing one of Halla’s friends as a sloth. Unfortunately, the picture made the specimen looks more like an Afghan Hound stuck in a tree than a sloth. The two-toed sloth is fascinating in that they are not as chilled out as their three-toed cousins and will fight back if a human picks them up.
Inland Taipan (Oxyuranus microlepidotus). The world’s most venomous snake. Friends of mine in Australia would feel right at home in Stockholm.
I have forgotten which specimen this one is. I am pretty sure one of the herptoculturists or herptologists would know.
Eyelash Viper (Bothriechis schlegelii). A popular venomous snake to keep in captivity in herpetoculture, mostly because of its ornamental value largely due to the radiant yellow and the fancy eyelashes.
Iran Jaya Blue-Tonbued Skink (Tiliqua gigas ssp.) I tried, and failed, to capture a shot of the courtship mating protocol between the two skinks which involves the male nipping at the female until she submits. This is usually the time of the year when my friends in the herpetoculture would try to breed their females. Did I mention I inherited a specimen named “Blueberry” from a friend in paleontology? Fascinating creatures.
King Cobra (Ophiophagus hannah). Beautiful specimen. However, it is forever tainted in my memory as the species which led to heavy regulations of exotic pets in British Columbia after a collector was bitten by a cobra and the staff at Reptile World in Drumheller, Alberta had to procure the antivemon.
False Tomato Frog (Dyscophus guineti). For some reason, my companion was fascinated with this frog. These “tomato frogs” (Dyscophus sp.) are commonly sold as pets at expos, mostly of the Madagascar variety. There was an exhibit of Poison Dart Frogs which are captivating, however a SLR would be needed to capture their beauty.
Antelope Ground Squirrel (Ammospermophilus sp.) When I saw this critter, I immediately thought of Jess Ruffner and Stephen Bodio. Although what Jess has in her backyard is the Spotted Ground Squirrel (Xerospermophilus spilosoma). I was also excited on my own behalf since we have the Richardson’s Ground Squirrel (Urocitellus richardsonii), or more commonly known in Canadian lexicon as “gopher”, which is a popular vermaint to shoot in many people’s childhoods on the Prairie.
Alligator Snapping Turtle (Macrochelys temminckiii). The Matamata Turtle (Chelus fimbriata), the Spiny Turtle (Heosemys spinosa and the Pancake Tortoise (Malacochersus tornieri) were far more intriguing, however apparently it is really difficult to get good shots of them. The first time I have seen them without behind a glass wall was in a friend’s basement when he pulled it out the giant Rubbermaid water-storage container. His specimen was astoundingly impressive at the time. Ever since then, Snapping Turtles behind the glass were nothing to be in awe about.
Naked Mole Rat (Heterocephalus glaber). I have never seen one of these critters before. They are ugly, like dicks with teeth. Or a mammalian version of a Bipes biporus. The set-up reminds me that of the leaf-cutter exhibits.
Oddly enough, almost every signs in the Skansen Aquarium were posted in Swedish, Finnish, English and Russian. However, for some reason, this warning sign was posted in English only. Perhaps it tells a lot about American tourists; or maybe more about British tourists since the Brits are the bulk of English-speaking group who goes around in Nordic countries.
Here is an intriguing bar-graph constructed by the Skansen Zoo of the correlation between over-hunting and Swedish brown-bear population; and the subsequent rebound once hunting regulations were introduced. The orange is the number of bears shot and the red is the population of the bear. On the side in a small black sign is the text in English explaining the board.
Swedish Wolf (Canis lupus) I first saw my Eurasian wolves in Finnish zoos in summer of 2012, but it wasn’t until we went to the Polish zoos, we saw the wild canines leading an active lifestyle. Even though we have been to several zoos including the one in Skansen, I am always amazed how small the wolves are and never really fully understood the phobia in Nordic countries since the Eurasian wolves are about the same size as our North American coyotes; and we regard the coyotes as pain in the hind-side, not something to be feared. However, our humongous western wolves still provoke fear in the populace.
In many of these cases, the Canon point-and-shoot would be a better substitute since the low-light condition of the grey winter skies reduced the quality of the photographs. However, many of the small primates, birds and invertebrates still require a good SLR camera to capture their true details. I hope the readers of the blog enjoy the photograph. They may not mean much, but they add to the scrapbook which we call life.