Thursday, 25 July 2013

The Tamandua

Regular readers of this blog will know that I love animals of the long-snouted variety. To celebrate both mine and my partner's recent birthdays we took a trip to Colchester Zoo yesterday. It was baking hot, and we did a lot of walking, but we managed to see all the long-snouted animals we expected: the giant anteater, the aardvark, and the dik dik spring to mind on recollection. As well as seeing and enjoying the regular animals with their regular-sized snouts, of course; including the lucky experience of watching a chimpanzee shit into its hand.

However, rather astonishingly, I saw a picture of a long-snouted animal next to an (unfortunately) seemingly empty enclosure that I hadn't heard of before (my partner said she knew of this one, and had in fact previously mentioned it to me, but I must have forgotten). The animal in question is from the genus of anteaters and is a Tamandua.

Looks pretty cool, doesn't it. Well, I looked within the enclosure through the mesh but couldn't see anything, and then I pressed my face to the glass on the other side of the enclosure and shielded the glare from the sun, but if the tamandua was there it certainly wasn't as bothered about seeing me as I was of seeing it. Most disappointing.

From wiki:

Tamandua is a genus of anteaters. It has two members: the southern tamandua (Tamandua tetradactyla) and the northern tamandua (Tamandua mexicana). They live in forests and grasslands, are semi-arboreal, and possess partially prehensile tails. They mainly eat ants and termites, but they occasionally eat bees, beetles, and insect larvae. In captivity, they will eat fruits and meat. They have no teeth and depend on their powerful gizzard to break down their food.

There's also the interesting fact: When aggravated, tamanduas communicate by hissing and releasing an unpleasant scent from their anal gland.

But more importantly, just look at the length of that snout!

Wednesday, 10 July 2013

Cora Vespertine

What's in a name?

It's been 14 months since the birth of our baby and the time has flown by. She's eating proper food, she's walking, she's saying the odd word, she's a continual delight, and she's tiring the hell out of us with all of it. But it doesn't seem that long ago that we were considering baby names. We wanted to go with something unusual, but not traumatic, and after discounting Snowlips Bumblebee, Capability Snuggles, Echo Echo, Bill Murray, and Adlebert Esquire, we settled on Cora Vespertine Clara Hook (of course, those other names were meant to be ridiculous, she was always going to be a Cora and the Vespertine just stuck).

Here she is:

Cora was a name my partner had considered from the start. It's a character in William Faulkner's "As I Lay Dying", and it had always appealed to her. There's no particular affiliation with the character, simply the name.

Vespertine was something that came up as we were throwing around some mad middle names. As well as being the title of a rather good Bjork album we found it also means flowers that bloom in the evening. We liked it because it was evocative, and as coincidence has it Cora was born early evening.

Clara is the name of my partner's grandmother. Self-explanatory that one, really.

Hopefully with this mixture of old and new names she'll grow up to be an independent, fiercely artistic individual. Maybe this is starting now:

So, we thought, that's going to be a pretty individual name. There won't be many Cora Vespertine's around.


Last weekend my partner happened to google the name (who doesn't do this?). Coincidence City! On a baby name website we were frankly astonished to see this. Just less than three months after the arrival of our Cora Vespertine, there was another one! We have no idea who this person is, but if it's a genuine case of coincidence that has to be utterly amazing. Of course, with the internet as it is, it could simply be appropriation (both annoying and flattering), and I wonder through how many links the name of our child (not found on google, but it would have been on facebook) might have gone through for this to happen. Either way, she's not quite unique any more (although to us, of course, she always will be). More importantly, she was first!

It crosses my mind that inevitably, at some point in the far flung future, if there is still an internet or equivalent, our Cora Vespertine will google her name and end up contacting the other Cora Vespertine. Maybe they'll be friends. In fact, maybe she's doing that now...