'Hello, Melbourne Zoo...Sheep?...You mean live sheep?...No, no, I just wasn't sure that's what you meant...Um...let me put you on hold for a minute while I ask our director. (Hand over mouthpiece, calls out to the next room) ...Er...there's a man on the phone, says he's got some live sheep he'd like to donate to the zoo for our lions. Can we take them?'
'Hello? Yes, thanks for waiting. I'm afraid we can't take them. We have strict quarantine laws about what the animals can eat and all that sort of thing. Thank you very much for the offer all the same.'
This is just one of the fascinating conversations I've been pretending not to eavesdrop on from my desk at the zoo. I am near the door, in the main office, along with the executive assistant to the director whose job it is to field these kind of phone calls. Apparently they get some doozies! People offering up their pets ('er, sorry, we don't take terrapins') to people asking for advice on snake bites ('I think you should probably call the hospital').
Forget the 'behind-the-scenes' for animals, I am loving the 'behind-the-scenes' for the staff! Being close to the door, I meet lots of keepers as they come in to chat with the director. They introduce themselves as 'Dave, from Hawks' or 'Jenny, from Primates'. I have a morning tea date soon with the butterfly keepers and I have been instructed to bring chocolates.
Then, if this was not exciting enough, I'd like you to think of three of the most amazing things you could put together in one sentence. How would food, animals and Michael Palin sound to you? Yep, thought so. Probably couldn't get much better. As a current 'Zoo Fellow', I received an invitation to THIS yesterday and literally squealed with excitement.
And here is a koala for your viewing pleasure: