Some time in 1969, when I was only a little over 7 years old, my Dad allowed me to borrow the family camera for the day. I took it with me on a school trip to London Zoo. These pictures below are the only surviving photos from my first solo use of a camera.
Emperor Penguins at London Zoo in 1969 – they look so colourful!
I believe this is another photo from that visit to London Zoo, this time of the African Penguins.
Both photos were taken with an Ilford Sporti camera on Kodak 120 roll film, that only allowed 12 pictures to be taken per roll. The original photos had the usual white border, but after scanning them I removed the border by cropping the picture. I also sharpened the picture and reduced the back-light a little, using the free software Photoscape. Not exactly enhanced, just cleaned up a little for the modern digital age.
Unfortunately, I have no idea what happened to any other photos of other animals I took that day. I seem to remember seeing giraffes, elephants, camels, chimps, kangaroos and a whole range of birds. Maybe they didn’t come out for some reason, or perhaps I just liked the penguins more than the other animals!
My view of zoos has changed much over the years. Whilst I am in no way an animal rights campaigner, I am now opposed to housing wild animals in restricted environments far from their natural homes.
I am persuaded that there may be some limited and specific good reasons for keeping some endangered species safe from harm. So long as the aim is to breed a small group to establish a wild population again. Otherwise I cannot now support the keeping of animals in zoos or even wildlife parks, although I am sure many people do find some educational value and enjoyment visiting those sorts of places. To me they seem more like animal prisons or detention camps, with a commercial reason for continuing, so I cannot go there any more.
To show Emperor Penguins in their natural environment and to illustrate how much more can be learned by intrepid camera men observing them in the wild I posted two two videos from YouTube in the previous post. They are only short but I hope they are enjoyable to see.
My next post will be an article about the camera I used and how cameras, film and photography for the amateur has changed for everyone in the last 40 years.