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Guy’s World: Zoo And Rock Double Feature

A Malayan Sun Bear

3:45 – feeding time for the Malayan Sun Bears! I’d been warned by Meredith, animal lover and taxidermist, that I had left the zoo trip too late. All the animals would be having siestas, she said.

My brother Dan was in town for a few days and we thought we’d see how much Wellington Zoo had changed since the last time we went a few years ago.

As it turned out, our timing was perfect: we got into Wellington Zoo just as the sun bears were being fed. My brothers and I like sun bears, and they put on a good show for us. They all stood up to check out the growing crowd, seeming to be just as interested in us as we were in them. Then they fought over buckets of the sponsor’s product – Arataki honey. Sun bears are the smallest bears, and they looked like they wanted people to pat them.

Sun bears are normally nocturnal, only coming out during the day to sunbathe, so we were very lucky.

Sadly, sun bears are kept in inhumane conditions for the Asian medicine trade, their bile believed to be a potent medicine and a nice addition to expensive soups.

The coolest new development at the zoo is the free ranging cotton top tamarins. These monkeys are the size of a squirrel, and look like little post-apocalyptic punk bandits. They descend from the trees in groups and make funny noises at people to defend their territory. They like to get close but they don’t like being touched.

My older brother Steve played pat the tamarin and avoid the bite. Tamarins are quick and vicious, and one got a good blood-drawing bite in. We told a passing zookeeper. Good, she said. Harassing the monkeys is against the rules.

Cotton Top Tamarin

The cockatoos are friendly and talk, but can turn on you in an instant. One bit my finger and wouldn’t let go, leaving a beak shaped crescent. Pat at your own risk.

Meerkats range for miles in their natural habitat in the Kalahari Desert. Their tiny enclosure at the zoo is a real shame. Last time I went to the zoo they had beer guts that hung over their feet when they sat up on their hind legs. They must have had a diet change because the beer guts have gone. They could do with a bit more space to stretch out though.

Apparently there’s a cave weta in the nocturnal house. The world’s heaviest insect is a bit of a charisma free zone though, it was hiding under a log or something. Fortunately there’s a cave downtown called the Valve, where the shy insect’s rocking namesake could be found on Monday night.

Aaron getting his rock on

Weta the band are former Wellingtonians, now making a big noise over the Tasman with their buddies Shihad. Revisiting the Valve over a year since they relocated, Weta are bigger and heavier than ever, and reek of charisma.

Singer Aaron Tokona’s vocals are to the fore now, where before they flailed away underneath a wall of guitars. Top move: Aaron’s singing is sounding soulful and assured. Weta mixed it up, throwing in funk jams and a wicked harmonica solo. They’ve really loosened up, and that’s a great thing.

Weta’s new album, Geographica is in stores now.

Mary, Mary, you’re on my mind. That Kissing Booth song has been lodged in my head since I saw the camply funny video on TV. So I was pretty damn keen to see Mary play when they rolled into town. And they’re such good sports - they came all the way from Auckland and played two shows, for free!

Mary are instantly likable: they look like they’re having a ball, breaking out into the sort of wicked grins that just can’t be faked. That’s really refreshing, when everybody seems hell bent on being such a badass these days.

MARY: they’re even spunkier in real life

Bassist Belinda was helpful enough to draw this picture of Mary on stage for me, so I could identify the girls by name on my photographs. The pics didn't come out too well, so we'll have to make do with Belinda's artistry.

Mary remind me a bit of the Runaways. Their songs seem naïve, even dumb, at first. But they seemed smarter and smarter with every song, especially when their perfect four part harmony singing kicked in.

Mary’s album is called Maryland, and has three videos on it. It’s on the girls’ own record label, Panty Records.

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