Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Australia's Not-So-Wild Dog

With thoughts of continuing work on a painting I began several months ago, I took advantage of "half-price Wednesday" at Perth Zoo today with hopes of fluking some decent photographs of a dingo or two. A dingo will be the main character in the painting and I have some half-formed ideas about the pose I'd ideally like to depict. It was never going to be easy to secure the perfect photographic reference, but I hoped to be able to pick and choose and combine elements from several photos.

In the middle of a warm Australian day, however, this is the best I could manage. Talking to one of the zoo keepers, it seems this old fellow is fast approaching his use-by date and is slowing down somewhat, although he did make the effort to turn and look at us - perhaps he sensed we were discussing him. Next to his enclosure are promotional shots of him with his sister, who was co-tenant until her recent death, which show them in their prime and posing magnificently. Just the photographs I was looking to take myself!

With the end seemingly imminent, there are plans afoot to replace him with two new animals. The replacements have even been sourced, but until nature takes its course and he shuffles off to wherever it is old dingoes shuffle off to, he'll live out his remaining days in solitude; it's thought that two new frisky arrivals will be too upsetting for him.

In his dotage, it's said he's fussed over by the keepers and is even taken for a walk around the zoo grounds each morning before the gates are opened - at a much slower pace than was once the case.

Without wanting to sound mean-spirited, it's clear that this old guy isn't going to provide the photos I want and that I'll have to venture further afield for some livelier specimens. I can only hope he enjoys his remaining time and laps up the attention he deservedly receives from his keepers for a good while longer.