As it had been a long time since for both of us, Honeybuns and I went to the Skansen Aquarium, a somewhat misleading name as most of the space is taken up by primate cages. Just inside the entrance we found a two-toed sloth hanging by its feet, munching cucumber pieces with gusto. (They had been placed on a tray, I presume that means they were betrayed.) It seemed all alone, but after ten minutes or so we suddenly noticed the other sloth, well hidden against another tree stem. In the meantime I had spotted small lizards rushing about. These turned out to be pygmy marmosets, so primates, but the way they kept their tail flat along the surface and their legs splayed out was utterly reptilian. Honeybuns and an iguana attracted each others’ attentions and watched each other through the glass.
Then outside to get to the next building. The baboons and lemurs were indoors somewhere, but there were several meerkats about in their enclosure, even though they were shivering with cold. I presumed they felt the necessity to keep watch of their territory, even though it was freezing cold.
Inside: Snakes, snakes. And frogs. It’s fascinating how tropical frogs manage to look completely artificial, as if made of wax or porcelain, sitting perfectly still on a branch or on the ground. (Some of them were at least visibly breathing, so they must have been alive.) I was a bit incensed on behalf of the Gila monster, who really hasn’t done anything to deserve such a name—even its scientific name is Heloderma suspectum.
Further in, a rain forest. I noted with surprise how much easier it was to breathe the humid air, Stockholm climate doesn’t really agree with me. So I just stood for a while breathing in and out, while monkeys clambered around the branches above me. I took the little rainforest tour, guided by a four-year-old who in rapid sequence showed me her new dress, the skellington in a corner, the monkey up in a tree, a puddle on the floor and so on.
Now we got to the aquariums proper. Rays and sharks swam around in a big pool, another aquarium turned out to contain three unimaginably huge alligator snapping turtles. We looked for a while at the crocodiles. The juveniles, kept in a separate terrarium, were constantly on the move, but the adults lay dead still. Honeybuns remembered how her grandfather once, doubting they were even alive, had knocked on the glass and been rewarded by a crocodile lunging at him. That time the glass had held, but there were prominent signs to stay away from the glass surfaces and that any objects thrown into the enclosure would have to be retrieved by the thrower.
One terrarium held naked mole rats, but they had to make do with pre-prepared perspex tubes, rather than getting to dig on their own. I thought that probably must feel strange to them.
The final room contained the spiders and scorpions, but most of them managed to hide quite effectively, so one couldn’t see much of them. I wonder if they consciously stayed away from the front of their cages.
We exited through the shop. It was very child-oriented, containing huge amounts of cuddly snakes, animal stickers, all kinds of plastic animals, etc, etc, but nothing in the way of books or DVDs, which disappointed me, surely a learning opportunity such as this should be made the most of?
By now we were quite hungry, so we went up to Stora Gungan for a late lunch. They had locked their doors and were just ushering out their last guests. Gubbhyllan then? Sorry, the kitchen had closed. Hm. Let’s leave Skansen then. What about Lilla Hasselbacken? Ah, maybe a tad too fancy for our current needs. We continue to Blå Porten. Do they offer hot food? The staff look a bit uncertain. Eventually it transpires that they had just had a fire in the kitchen extinguished and the fire brigade has forbidden them to even go in there right now. But would we like some tea and cookies? We decide to move further into town. BarCelona, our usual backup site? Completely full. Ah, but what about Grace Tea House just across the street? Yes, they’re open, even if we seem to interrupt the staff in their own lunch. What about dumplings? Ah, they're fresh out of vegetarian dumplings. Honeybuns settles for a Szechuan soup. It turns out to be spicy enough to give her a nosebleed, but at least we finally got fed.
Then we return home for weekend cleaning.