It’s all happening at the zoo

Japanese Cherry. Photo: Frank Obrigewitsch SJ

It was a peculiar day at the zoo this past June 6th.  Usually my focus has been on the fauna, but this day very few were in evidence.  A lone polar bear rolled and lolled around in the compound pond and the donkeys munched away on their hay.  No tiger,  snow leopard, or wolf were to be seen.  Petulantly I decided not to visit the camels, Takins, or Gibbons.

Asiatic apple tree. Photo: Frank Obrigewitsch SJ

Asiatic apple tree. Photo: Frank Obrigewitsch SJ

But so spectacular in its presence was what through most of my previous times in the zoo mostly unnoted–theflora.  The trees on this day displayed their exceptional spring beauty.  I’ve always loved the ‘trembling aspen’ whose leaves flutter noisily in the slightest breeze.  My handy iPhone app, PictureThis, names it the ‘Quaking aspen’ or in Latin, Populus tremuloides’.

Absolutely magnificent were the rose Asiatic apple trees, sometimes called Chinese flowering apple, a hardy species of crabapple tree, easy to care for and able to thrive even through Winnipeg winters.  Apparently its fruit has a sweet/sour flavour.  It has been a popular tree in China for centuries. Its fruit is a friend to many birds too!

The Japanese Cherry was wonderfully in bloom with its pink splendour.  Its claim to fame is that its fragrant flowers are a powerful attraction for butterflies.  I read that in Japan many love to picnic beneath its snowy pink and white blossoms in a tradition called “Hanami” and the blossoms are considered the symbol of beauty and mortality!

A great contrast in white were the European bird cherry blossoms.  This tree is considered by many an easy perennial tree to take care of whose flowers and leaves are beautiful.  But some consider the bird cherry an invasive ornamental tree.  Nevertheless it attracts bees and birds with its heavily scented clustered blossoms.

The Siberian crab apple also sports beautiful white blossoms and is a curious tree in that it is considered too large to fit into

Siberian crab apple. Photo: Frank Obrigewitsch SJ

Siberian crab apple. Photo: Frank Obrigewitsch SJ

ornamental gardens, but it can be used as a bonsai tree!

While the zoo animals failed to attract my attention this day,  how enjoyable to view the vast array of colour in the zoo compound and then, with the aid of my phone app, to specifically identify its source!   What a pleasure to identify creatures I have overlooked in all my previous visits!  It was a blessing that the other usually more vital creatures tended to be invisible on June 6th !

Frank Obrigewitsch, SJ, is pastor of St. Ignatius parish in Winnipeg.

  • Lorraine Majcen
    Posted at 10:29h, 08 July Reply

    Thank you Fr Frank for your descriptive commentary of the fauna at the Winnipeg Zoo. It must be so uplifting and relaxing to walk amongst the beauty of nature. The zoo often conjures up memories of my visits as a child to the zoo in Calcutta India on Boxing Day. It was an annual tradition when we got together with extended family for a picnic with all the lovely leftovers from Christmas Day. Fun memories!! I am impressed by your interest and desire to visit the zoo as an adult.

    • Roy Frank Obrigewitsch
      Posted at 11:33h, 11 July Reply

      In my youth there was a custom in my family of visiting the gardens of relatives and friends. A visit to another’s home always meant a visit to their garden. I guess its in my genes. I have always loved plants and animals. The zoo gives me an oppportunity to enjoy both (and to get in my 5500 steps each day).

  • Sidney Shapira
    Posted at 12:44h, 08 July Reply

    Thanks for taking us on this trip through the flora visible at the Zoo on your June visit. Your descriptions and the added stories of culture and meaning were an added bonus.
    I look forward to your posts, Father Obie. Thank-you!

    • Roy Frank Obrigewitsch
      Posted at 11:39h, 11 July Reply

      Thank you, Sidney.
      I enjoy seeing your regular collages on Facebook.
      Thank you for them.

  • Friederika Priemer
    Posted at 14:22h, 09 July Reply

    Dear Fr. Frank Obrigewitsch, Thank you very much for this lovely report of “Spring in the Winnipeg Zoo”.
    I enjoyed reading it, but I hope the animals won’t be jealous! Haha!!

    • Roy Frank Obrigewitsch
      Posted at 11:42h, 11 July Reply

      Not too worry, Friedericka. The animals usually seem quite blase about my visits!

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