Monday, March 27, 2006

Animal of the Week March 27, 2006 -- Margays

Ladies and Gentleman, Boys and Girls

This week's animal of the week is Leopardus wiedii (margay, tree ocelot). Early last week, Todd Dalton of Peckham (or Camberwell if you are professional lay-about Guardian columnist Zoe Williams—who is his neighbour and obviously doesn't want to be accused of living in Peckham) in south London was told by Southwark council that he could not house two clouded leopards, two fossas, and two margays in his garden. Now, clouded leopards, you can probably have a guess at (they're beautifully marked, medium sized cats about the size of a small labrador), fossas we visited briefly in AOTW 12/12/05 on the new small carnivore found in Borneo. But margays, what the devil are they?

Like the leopards but not like the fossas, they are cats, small Central and South American felines about the same size as domestic moggies. According to one website, their marbled colouration and large eyes make them, in the opinion of many cat fanciers, the prettiest of all the cats. Certainly these two chaps in the picture are rather endearing. Margays are the only cats to have ankle joints that can rotate through 180 degrees enabling them to climb down trees headfirst like squirrels!

Now, not only have the two margays, two fossas, and two leopards been saved from the ignominy of an SE15 (or SE5, like it matters! [north-London has changed me]) postcode, but given that Todd Dalton seems to be the same man who runs Edible ( the company that sells cobra sausages, civet-poo coffee (I kid thee not), and crocodile curry, perhaps they have been saved from a fate more spicy than death?!

The two margays in this week's picture:
Laurence: I like that Zoe Williams, she doesn’t live in Peckham, and we certainly wouldn't live in Peckham!
Jonty: No way will we live in Peckham, let's get one of those penthouses in the new development in Vauxhall.
Laurence: Ooh, Vauxhall, fabulous! And Zoe, Let's all meet up for eggs Florentine in Funky Munky just as soon as we've got a new pad.(For the former and current residents of Camberwell and Peckham, Brixton and Chiswick, and everyone who ever drowned)


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