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Welcome To The Scrabble Zoo

We are greeted for the tour of the scrabble zoo by the zookeeper Lexicon Luthor. He is accompanied by Bingo his faithful dog. Lex says "Bingo is a MALTIPOO. I had to have a dog of his breed because he is the most likely 'designer' dog breed you are able to play as a bonus word. The only other ones I can find are LABRADOODLE. (too long to be a likely possibility) and PEKEPOO/PEEKAPOO or COCKAPOO (Needing PPK or CCK makes it much less likely you will have a chance to play either of these two breeds) Searching the internet will enable you to find corgipoo (corgi /poodle) bichpoo (bichon frise/poodle) beaglier (beagle/king charles cavalier spaniel) or even the unfortunately named havapoo (Havanese/Poodle) There are also dogs with shorter names such as beago (beagle/golden retriever) but so far the editors of our dictionary have not recognised them or many others too numerous to mention"

Lets start with a tour of the zoo. Unlike Bingo these are all wild animals. there are 15 enclosures on our tour to match the 15 rows and columns of a scrabble board and they are all arranged in alphabetical order

We start with a very tropical enclosure. it looks like a rainforest but it has a very solid looking animal in it. "Quite petite isn't it?" says Lex. You snort and reply "It must weigh well over 200kg" Lex then explains that the ANOA is a dwarf....... a dwarf water buffalo found on the island of Sulawesi

The second enclosure is a very dry sandy one. There are some antelopes with impressive horns, but there are only a few scraggly shrubs for them to eat. "I hope you keep your animals better fed that this" you say to Lex. "Of course we do" says Lex. "But this is the ADDAX enclosure. They are native to the Sahara desert and are used to foraging for whatever desert vegetation they can find."

At least the next enclosure doesn't look so spartan, with many large tropical trees. Out from behind one of them trots what can only be described as a huge pig with large tusks that curl upwards from the side of its face "Wow! What is that?" you exclaim. "Aah, I see you are not familiar with the BABIRUSA" says Lex. "It is sometimes called the deer pig and is found in Indonesia."

There are more trees in the next enclosure, but their branches are quite high off the ground. The unfortunate antelopes here have to rear up on their hind legs just to grab a mouthful of a few leaves. "Wouldn't it be better if they didn't have to do that?" you ask. "The GERENUK is found in Africa" says Lex "and it normally browses the areas below where a giraffe would feed, but above the areas reached by most other animals"

The next enclosure has a lot of water. Is that a log floating over there? No. It is a large reptile, but the snout is longer and more slender than you expected. "Some sort of crocodile is it? you ask. "Yes" says Lex. "It is a GHARIAL, which is sometimes called the fish-eating crocodile. A very useful animal for scrabble players because the alternative spellings of GARIAL and GAVIAL can also be used."

Dense vegetation fills the next enclosure. You can't see any animals. The sign explains that this is the INDRI enclosure. Even though they are apparently one of the largest lemurs there are plenty of places in the trees for them to hide, because you can't see them today.

We have walked around the block and come around the other side of the addax enclosure. There is a portion closed off to create a separate area and there appear to be several ratlike creatures that are hopping around more like kangaroos "Another animal from the Sahara?" you ask. "Yes" says Lex. "But not just the Sahara. The JERBOA is also found in several other deserts throughout Africa and Asia"

The next enclosure is interesting. A large expanse of marshland, but enclosed by netting from above. You can't see anything, but a plaintive cry is emanating from somewhere. "That will be the KILLDEER" says Lex "It is named for what the call sounds like. It is also called the KILLDEE".

Another antelope is evident in the next enclosure, but this time there is a bit more vegetation. In particular there are quite a few acacia trees. Apparently they are a favourite of the KUDU, well known to scrabble players as a way to get a reasonable score from two U's. The sign on the enclosure indicates that the alternative spelling of KOODOO might also be useful.

You are not sure about the next exhibit. Is it an antelope? It looks a bit big. Lex can understand your confusion, but explains that the NILGAI is the largest Asian antelope and that a big male can sometimes be close to 300kg. You are not at all surprised to hear that they are sometimes call Blue Bulls.

Oh! How did we come back to the kudu enclosure? "No" says Lex. "The NYALA looks a lot like it, but they are definitely different species and live in completely separate regions of Africa

The next enclosure returns to a rainforest motif, but the animal in it is quite clearly yet another antelope. "What is it with all these antelopes? you ask. "Well firstly" says Lex "the OKAPI is not an antelope. It is much more closely related to the giraffe than any other animal and indeed it is sometimes called the forest giraffe. But to answer your other question - it is not easy running a zoo and sometimes you need to have a food chain built in to keep the populations of some herds in check. That will make more sense to you when we come to the final exhibit"

Ignoring that slightly troubling comment you catch sight of the monkeys in the next enclosure. "Those are marmosets aren't they?" you exclaim. "That is true," says Lex, but actually they are a specific type of marmoset called a OUISTITI or WISTITI. We had an interesting thing happen last week when the lock to this enclosure became jammed. When the locksmith arrived he needed to use a specific tool to open it. He had to use an OUSTITI to open the OUISTITI enclosure!"

Tiny kangaroos are in the penultimate enclosure. They remind you of the jerboas from a little earlier. This is the Australian POTOROO, which is sometimes called the kangaroo rat.

That just leaves one more exhibit. You cannot believe your eyes. "How did you get a Sabre-Toothed Tiger?" Lex sighs and says "I wish I didn't have to explain to every single visitor that the correct term is Sabre-Toothed Cat. This SMILODON is an excellent example of one of those cats. To get one it helps to be a scientist and to have some super acquaintances. This is where the tour ends. Don't feel you have to make a donation now. However we would appreciate any contribution you can make when memories of this tour help you to find one of these words in a game of scrabble"

Happy Scrabbling


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