Greetings Hoogly fans! As the lockdown is gradually eased, many of us are taking the opportunity to step outside and cautiously enjoy exercise in the wider world once again. Spending such a long time indoors has been truly testing (even with our endlessly varied and delicious Hoogly brews to enjoy!) and now that we are starting to stretch our legs, the surroundings that we’ve barely seen in weeks take centre stage once more. But it’s not just the beautiful woods, forests and parks, replete with plump trees, radiant flowers and vast swathes of glistening grassland that demand attention; it’s also the amazing creatures that dwell within. Personally, I love nothing better than to watch wildlife busily going about its business: squirrels scurrying and pestering nuts; ducks with fluffy chicklets drifting across glinting ponds; geese sculling overhead in military formation; foxes on a dusk prowl, flitting into hedge furrows with a flash of orange. And, of course, there are the hundreds of varieties of dogs, hauling their humans around, blissfully unaware of the world’s problems, tongues lapping out like slabs of bacon as they urge yet another lap of the park. Don’t forget, too, the insects, arachnids and reptiles that dart about, burrowing, hiding, marching, flying and hunting beneath and around our feet—a whole other world of stunning intricacy, complexity and imperious design…if only we look close enough.
Watching animals go about their lives has always given me a sense of calm, an escape from whatever else I’m thinking about. It’s oddly comforting knowing the simple, binary prerogatives of these creatures: safety, warmth, food, sex. But it’s not always simply about survival; there are secrets and magic to be found in the wild; chase and play, fun and games, mating rituals, elaborate communication, tender acts, and lifelong relationships. There is so much to admire—and envy—In the animal world that I thought I list a few amazing facts for your enjoyment—nuggets of information that will dazzle, surprise and give you fresh perspective on our wild neighbours!
- In 1945, a Colorado farmer decided chicken was on the menu, and chopped one of his rooster’s head off with an axe; unfortunately, his aim was slightly off, and despite removing the head, the rooster’s brainstem remained mostly intact, and a clot saved it from death by blood loss. When ‘Mike’ continued to run around, the farmer knew he had something incredible on his hands, and soon the rooster became famous, delighting and shocking visitors for eighteen months, before he eventually succumbed to the inevitable!
- The bombardier beetle, when threatened, cooks up a chemistry set of destruction in its belly: hydroquinone, hydrogen peroxide, catalysing enzymes and water, a jet of which shoots out of its rear end with a loud pop, scaring and stinking predators away! Thankfully, the beetle also has an inner valve which closes so that the beetle doesn’t explode!
- Some lizards and salamanders can ‘drop’ their tails when a predator grabs it; this process of autotomy happens when the lizard contracts certain muscles, cleaving a vertebra and causing the tail to fall (and sometimes wiggle independently to further befuddle an attacker) Often, a new tail tip made from cartilage may grow back, but the bones are gone forever.
- It may not surprise you to know this, but cats have adapted to skilfully manipulate their owners. A study showed that cats that want something from their humans emit a unique, high-frequency purr, which is of a similar pitch to the impossible-to-ignore wails and cries of a human baby, ensuring we soon top up the bowl and put a smile on moggy’s whiskers.
- In 1986, a five-year-old boy fell into the gorilla enclosure at Jersey Zoo, knocking himself unconscious. Jambo, the head of the gorilla group, took the situation into his own hands, guarding the boy, and stroking his back, keeping his curious fellow gorillas back. When the boy came round and started to cry, Jambo stepped back, allowing keepers to rescue the boy unharmed!
- An African Grey Parrot called Alex, according to his handler, had the ability to understand concepts, recognise colours and shapes and knew around 100 words, including some the parrot had made up himself! When Alex saw his first apple, he christened it ‘banerry,’ a portmanteau of ‘banana’ and ‘cherry,’ two fruits he already enjoyed!
To celebrate the outside world, and all the majestic creatures that inhabit it, why not indulge in one of our finest summery brews: Spiced Orange herbal tea! This fresh, zesty delight has a generous dose of mulled spices, and is infused with a fruity centre that will quench your thirst and thrill your taste buds at any time of day!
Until next time, stay safe, be Hoogly, and don’t let the cat twist your arm!
Written by Chris Bedford