So today was the semi-official celebration for Syndia's birthday. Her actual birthday was in August but she was away at a conference, so we celebrated it piecemeal. Today was the Australia Zoo component, in which we went for a walk with a cheetah, Foxtrot (don't laugh - his brother's name's Echo) and met and fed two echidnas, Spiky and Dane. The cheetah walk was fascinating - I'd done my homework and still learnt quite a bit about cheetahs. Their fur is much softer than I'd expected, too, and the black spots have different-textured fur to the rest.

I'd been going to write, "Echidnas are spiky and eat goo," but that's completely unfair to them. They're very, very cute little creatures. The food we fed them was a mixture of mince, raw eggs and insects, and they loved it enough to hang around a pair of strange humans for a little while after they'd eaten it all.

In a complete case of small-world syndrome, I ran into someone I'd met years ago and to whom I'd been introduced by a mutual friend (Hi, CK!). Ben's one of the official photographers at Australia Zoo and he's responsible for that gorgeous shot of Dane the Echidna and Syndia the Human through the hollow log.

Syndia, of course, spent the entire day going gaga over all creatures, great and small - which was, after all, the entire point of the exercise. Mission accomplished?