The blog of Tokyo based photographer and photojournalist, Damon Coulter

Well I’ll be a monkey’s great, great great..nephew

It’s a jungle out there, I’ve seen insects here in Japan I only dreamed of in England as a boy: Stag beetles, rhino beetles, dragonflies and praying mantis(es?); none of which I’d seen in any great number before I came here (some never) though I’d always wanted to.

Today I went out, during a break in the rain, so that my son could use his new SLR camera (his birthday present and looks just like mine so he’s pretty made up). We went to the local park and tried to shoot some insects great fun picturing cicadas and a mantis we found crawling through the undergrowth. We were the ones crawling by the way.

Living in this big city it is easy to get divorced from nature, yet as I have written before nature is all around which considering the city I’m in is amazing really.

Of course for really impressive and wilder animals we need to go to the zoo. I like zoos. Sorry, let me qualify that, I like good zoos ones where the animals have enclosures rather than cages, where their needs are paramount to the experiences of the visitors. I have spent hours at Howlett’s Zoo looking in vain for wolves and tigers who would rather remain hidden than be put on display in smaller, less dignified enclosures. And you know what? I didn’t mind a bit because that’s how it should be. I was lucky to see wolves at the wonderful Chester Zoo above however and loved, really loved the award winning Singapore ZooAsahiyama Zoo in Hokkaido and Tama Zoo in Tokyo are not bad in places, though a little bit theme park-like around the big cats and anything cute; and my local Zoorasia in Yokohama is pretty good too.

I like taking nature pics, but have neither the time, money nor big lenses to go off on safaris to see the great and amazing animals of this world in their natural habitat so zoo portraits like the orangutan at Zoorasia above will have to do for a bit.

Of course some animals shouldn’t be in zoos. I don’t think polar bears, who natural range runs to hundreds if not thousands of kilometers can be happy in small, cliff- walled enclosures and it always makes me sad to see them in zoos, especially in hot countries. But where animals are taken care of and their needs are put first; where the survival of the species is ensured by its continued captivity and careful breeding and where the purpose of the zoo is education in the need to protect this wonderful world and furthering our understanding of all the manifest happy accidents of evolution that make it such an amazing place, which endangered animals might one day be returned to safely, they have have a purpose.

Needless to say I won’t be going here then.

Richard Dawkins has it right.

Late and tired.

Talk soon



3 responses

  1. Nice shot of the orang-utan. It bears a striking resemblance to one of my grandfathers, my other grandfather had the build of a silver back gorilla. Anyone who doubts evolution and says “I’m not descended from monkeys” just had to look at them to see Darwin was right. I digress.

    Nice of you to get a slr for your son, hope he enjoys hanging out with his dad taking snaps.

    Take it easy.

    August 15, 2010 at 3:01 pm

  2. Pingback: Other Victims « sungypsy blog

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