Friday, November 9, 2012

Gelato in the Rain and Taxidermied Animals

Number 258 on the "Things I did not expect to see in Russia" list: The skeleton of a Blue Whale.

We spent the week mostly in domestic pursuits, school, feeding people, cleaning up from feeding people, and keeping people in line. The other night Mrs. P treated us to gelato from a (relatively) nearby store. We suited up and walked(walked, walked, walked) to this cute little place with a friendly Italian owner and picked out two scoops each. Mine was raspberry and chocolate. On the way back it started raining and by the time we got home we were all wet, chilled, and ready for bed.

Today after lunch and school we took the much hated but necessary bus number 11 down past the bridge to the Zoological Museum. It's a lot of work to get the kids ready to go out and haul the stroller too, but we've been doing school pretty faithfully and it was good to get out.

 Plus, where else would we have gotten to see centuries-old mummified cats, embalmed creatures, wooly mammoths, pinned bugs as big as my hand, and giant whale skeletons? Above is the Narwhal skeleton.

The kids loved it. Even Jackson was able to run all over since most of the exhibits were behind glass. Right now we have six people under thirteen and five over fifteen, so it's really a pretty good youth/older ratio. It's hard to believe we have less than three weeks left. I don't know what may happen in our remaining time here; the D's second trip away is in question, so if they end up spending all the rest in St.P our time will be a little different than expected.

This was the more attractive part of the bug section. Those huge horned beetles that you always think of in relation to a horrible south American jungle filled with murderous cannibals? They had those, too.

 Now, you might think this is a big fish. But it's actually not. This is a comparatively small fish when you see some of the other displays.

A turtle skeleton and Calvin. They had every classification of animal in every size preserved from the time of Peter the Great on. 

Taxidermy: anatomy , anhydration, animal physiology, anthropology, biology, blast-freezing, bottling, brining, canning, comparative anatomy, curing, desiccation, dry-curing, embalming, entomology, ethology, evaporation, freeze-drying, helminthology, marination, mummification, ornithology, pickling, protozoology, quick-freezing, smoking, stuffing, taxonomy, zoology, zootaxy.

A frozen baby mammoth. Sadly there's not room here for my photos of liquid preserved squid, the giant mammoth without much hair left, the giant crabs and vultures, and hairy camels. There were also Siberian wolves who looked totally nasty("He is scared of the wolves," Antonia whispered to me. "In his country there are very many, and they eat men and women.") and anaconda snakes as thick around as my waist. All stuffed, of course.

On the way back to the bus stop by the bridge across the Neva was actually saw a live animal: a bear with his owner. The bear was drinking milk at the time, and we didn't wait around to see if it actually would dance to the music. Being so close to a loose bear, even though it did have a muzzle, made Mrs. P very nervous and the children very excited. And thus ended the day.

The Hermitage building.

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