Monday, 3 October 2016

Meet Leonard

Leonard is a lungfish (naturally) and belongs to the geology department of the University of Bristol where my elder daughter, Frances, is a PhD student.  Apparently he was acquired by someone who was studying the palaeontology of lungfish, with the intention of dissecting him for comparison purposes.  When the time came - and quite understandably - the student concerned couldn't bring himself to "do the deed", so Leonard has lived at the department ever since.

In geological circles, Leonard is actually quite famous.  He even has his own web and Facebook pages...

Leonard is fed once a week on Fridays, and I was lucky enough to turn up at the right time to witness this rare event.  Step one is to remove some prawns from the freezer and thaw them in the microwave (emulating what happens in the wild, presumably).

Stage two is to attach the prawns, one by one, to the end of a long stick and dangle them directly in front of Leonard's nose.  His eyesight is pretty poor, it seems, but his sense of smell is rather better.  His appetite wasn't much to write home about, though, as he only took one of the prawns on offer; and, even then, spent the next half an hour or so spitting it out and then re-swallowing it.

Frances and one of her fellow students demonstrating the tools of the trade needed to look after Leonard.  The baton/magic wand is the feeding stick, and the rather clever cleaning contraption uses a strong magnet to allow the inside of the tank to be scraped while being controlled from the outside.  Sneaky.

The final picture shows Leonard being "tickled" (which, apparently, he likes).  I always wondered what all those thousands of washing up brushes from IKEA were used for.

It was a real privilege to meet Leonard - even if the department isn't quite sure of his/her gender.  Maybe I met Leonardina, after all?