Sunday, November 22, 2009

Wet and not so wild

You may remember a post I did recently about cheering myself up with yellow things.

Yellow is good. Yellow is bright. Yellow is happy.

In that post I gave some examples of yellow things that are positive. Bananas, jaundice, Mr Custard.

Actually, not jaundice, unless you're positive for hepatitis. But definitely Mr Custard, the American Bullfrog at Slimbridge wildlife and wetland trust:

And yes, there may have been some labelling that Mr Custard might have drunk like a fish, hence his hue, but it was generally accepted that his yellowness was as a result of albinism, which isn't really his fault, no matter how you look at it.

We were there yesterday, and my son was relatively excited about seeing Mr Custard, saying "Want to see lellow prog!" three hundred and eleven times until we started to suspect that he might want to see the yellow frog.

Dutifully, we trudged towards the amphibian ghetto.

Imagine our distress when we were greeted by this sign:

Mr Custard had croaked.

And "retention of fluids"?

Looks like I was right about the . . . er . . . *makes drinky-drinky motion with hand*

My son was a little confused, but I think that, at two, he's ready for the "death talk".

It was going to happen soon anyway, what with my driving and the suicidal pheasants that abound round these parts, so I explained to him, in terms he could understand, that Mr Custard was no longer with us, and had gone to a better place. Possibly a heron's colon.

He got the message, and walked out with a new appreciation of life and it's adherent ephemerality.

"Lellow prog dead!" he announced as he strode past some other children, breaking them in easily for the sad news.

Luckily, Slimbridge has some other new American imports, which are proving to be a big attraction.


These are North American otters, and although we do have a British version (the Eurasian otter), Slimbridge has these for a couple of reasons. The main one is that they needed a home, and they had one going spare. The other is that the American species is bigger, brasher, louder, more boisterous, likes showing off and doesn't mind being watched by an audience:

Typical yanks.

Despite being brown, the second saddest colour* otters are the embodiment of joi de vivre, and just the tonic for getting over the sad demise of Mr Custard. And the two, apart from both being American, are closer ecologically than one might at first suspect.

Apparently, otters eat frogs on a regular basis, so it all demonstrated the great, crunchy, chewy wonder that is the cycle of life.

* the first being puce, because nothing good is ever puce.


  1. I do hope the caretakers of the otters will be more conscientious than those entrusted with the bullfrog -- namely by keeping the booze under lock and key.

  2. Wong wiv da prog! Retention of fluids does not sound like a pleasant way to die.

  3. Hi Jules,

    "Retention of fluids?" I had no idea that an amphibian could suffer demise from that malady.

    Thanks to you you, your son seems to have taken the news quite well (a credit to your keen sensitivity).

    Your description of the otters sounds accurate. Americans of all species, pride themselves on representing the spirit of exhibitionism.


  4. So sad that the 12 step program didn't work out for Mr Prog.. If only Slimbridge would have stepped up with a better sponsor.

    And just to prove you are spot on with your assessment of us yanks, I am typing this comment sans pants.

  5. "Typical Yanks". Well, yes, perhaps we are. Not nearly so reserved as the Brits. And so obviously obnoxious. Like that frog.

  6. It's not the subjects of which you blog about that amuses me so much, it's the unique way in which you do it.

  7. It's amazing how much you know about "yanks. I was wondering,do they had a North American People Museum there too?

  8. Hmm. I thought North America was beaver country. What happens when an otter meets a beaver?

  9. Ana - Or at least mark the levels of brandy on the glass, to see if the frog's been at it. I noticed the axolotls were eyeing up the vodka.

    Christine G - My Uncle went the same way, drowning in a vat of beer. He had to get out 3 times to go to the toilet though. Aha.

    U - He's a sensitive sort, my boy. Told me he didn't like me the other day, and to be "nice and quiet".

    SkylersDad - Unfortunately, the sponsors were newts, and the frog just got as pissed as them. And well done on the pants thing. What about trousers?

    Douglas - I think the British can field a fairly competitive team when it comes to obnoxiousness. And I don't reckon you're a typical anything.

    Jimmy - Extremely glad you like it. Ta.

    thinkinfyou - There isn't strangely. I think they're afraid they'll do the same as the Grey Squirrel and Signal Crayfish, escaping into the wild and spreading. And I hear they're hard to trap.

    GB - They have beavers at Slimbridge as well, although not so much of an attraction as they're nocturnal. I'm just looking forward to being able to see Kate Humble and a beaver in the same shot on telly mind.

  10. I'll take the otters over Mr. Custard any day! RIP Mr. Custard. *bows head in reverence*

  11. Well, da prog had some funky yellow fluid all over him, hence the retention, I'm guessing? Or perhaps that's why he was called Mr. Custard.

  12. Yellow frog? I'd thought they cured the malaria in France.

    Kidding... condolences to our overseas Yank bretheren.

  13. if y'all think the otters are typical yanks, wait until y'all see the seals at pier 49 in san francisco bay!

  14. Loud? BOISTEROUS you say?? Likes SHOWING OFF!! Well, I never, sir! I will have you know...

    *rips off trenchcoat to reveal spangley unitard and tap shoes*

    ...that I have never been so insulted....

    *catches flaming baton from offstage, dons top hat* all my life!! *fills mouth with butane and sprays it over baton, causing massive plume*

    Hit it, Maestro! a-one-and-a-two-and-a HELLO MAH BABY, HELLO MAH HONEY, HELLO MAH RAGTIME GAAAALLLLLLL....

  15. Otter are sleek adorable creatures and far tastier than frogs.


  16. Your son is definately going to grow up to be a counsellor. You don't get that sensitive without being born that way.

  17. That frog gave me the creeps when you put up that original blog and it gives me the creeps still. Good riddance I say! Ours are all browns except for those creepy Queensland green tree frogs..who ever heard of green frogs? (green is for plants damn it)...and they live up trees...un-natural I tells ya!

  18. CatLadyLarew - At last, a spot of decorum on this blog. Thank you!

    Fragrant Liar - Prog 'n custard? I can see that catching on. A sort of Anglo-French fusion cuisine.

    Eric - The Foreign Legion keep reintroducing it when they get home.

    Savvy - I HAVE seen them. One of the highlights of my trip there!

    Steamy - LOL. I was actually doing jazz hands, followed by show hands, then back to jazz hands then.

    Pearl - HAve you had chicken tarka? It's like chicken tikka, on 'otter.

    Not sure if that joke works across the pond.

    Tennyson ee Hemingway - I think he'd set up his own style of Reality counselling. "You're depressed because your fat! Lose weight. Be happier. Three hundred quid please."

    Pash - Calm down girl. Easy. Eeeaaasy. There ya go. Anyway don't you run over amphibians in your neck of the woods? Pop 'em like water balloons?

  19. You poor bugger! Yellow is the colour of sick. Yellow is the hue of my skin after a hard weekend on the turps. Yellow is the colour of very sick frogs, if he was still in the wild he would surely have strayed deliberately onto the road to end it all...but NO, he was forced to live long and sad, pleading with his eyes for someone to end it all. (weep)

  20. The nearest river from here is 450km away and you would call it a creek it's so trivial. The nearest creek is nearly as far and is dry through the summer. (I kid you not) Our frogs are the desert kind that bury themselves until rain comes again which can be years. So there are NO frogs, turtles nor any other water preferring creature. Oh!~ we do have they count?

  21. Tempo - You've made yellow sad. I hope you're pleased with yourself.

    Pah - Sharks aren't amphibious are they? Now that would be scary.

  22. Otters are more fun then bullfrogs, even if they are loud and brash. One always gets a good laugh at their antics.


  23. Ah well, lellow prog's are overrated.

  24. AV - Perhaps you just haven't spent enough time with frogs.

    Mo - Harsh, harsh words.

  25. "Lellow prog dead!"

    Haha, glad to see he wasn't too scarred by his first brush with mortality.

    Also, I heart otters.

  26. Ah, poor kid not getting to see the lellow prog. (And is its latin name really "custardii" as it says on that placard?? I do hope so.)

  27. Soda and Candy - Luckily, my boy's resilient. And easily distracted.

    Gadjo - Unfortunately not. It's just an albino version of Lithobates catesbeiana, and not it's own species. Wish it was though.

  28. I trust that he was disposed of in a hygienic manner. No random crunching by passing omnivores. Couldn't they stuff him and put him on display for the appreciation of the young 'uns?


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