Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Mr Henderson

Of all the funny things that I saw, heard, read and ate in China (yes, ate: tofu, good God....) the funniest of them all involved no Chinese people, no Chinglish and no chopstick-related mayhem.

It is a curious fact that that funniest thing that happened to me in China involved Mrs Wife and an orang-utang.

Ever since our lives became entwined, it has been a strange custom of ours to visit, when possible, the zoo for her birthday.

As Mrs Wife turned 28 during our Shanghai sojourn, we decided to take a trip out the city's zoo. Truthfully, we weren't sure what to expect - we'd heard rumours that the quality of the enclosures might be someway short of that found in the west, and that we should prepare for the worst.

But in truth, the standards weren't too bad - perhaps not as high as would be expected in Edinburgh or London, but certainly of sufficient size that the animals could move around freely and explore the confines of their cages.

By far the worst aspect of the zoo was the Chinese customers, who ignored the rules forbidding the feeding of animals and merrily threw sweeties in wrappers to bears and attempted to attract the attentions of a red panda with a sandwich.

The zoo is massive, and walking around in the scorching sun was tiring. But, as the end of the day approached, it began to seem as though we had the park to ourselves, most of the Chinese having departed.

And it was near closing time that we found the primates. As ever, the gorillas and chimpanzees were highly entertaining, given how closely related they are to ourselves.

Having spent a good few minutes watching our near cousins, Mrs Wife and I arrived in the deserted orang-utang building, where two of the apes were separated by a wall that split the enclosure.

As Mrs Wife watched the comic antics of a young orang-utang, I wandered to the other side of the enclosure, where I found myself face-to-face with a six-foot plus male.

I don't think I've ever been that close to a fully-grown male orang-utang before, and I expressed my surprise by shouting to Mrs Wife: "Come and see, it's a yeti."

Mrs Wife duly obliged, and spent several minutes in silent awe as the creature checked us out, swung around on a tyre and then climbed a rope.

Finally, the silence was broken when Mrs Wife said: "I don't think I've ever seen a yeti before."

1 comment:

Jaggy said...

You couldn't make it up. lol