Saturday, 1 October 2016

A poem for Paladin - AWOL rhino!

Where's Paladin...?
As you might have guessed by now (see previous two posts), I am busy hunting down all 42 rhinos on Paignton Zoo's Great Big Rhino Trail. Having found the 24 Torbay and district rhinos, I finally made it to Exeter in search of the other 16 currently in Devon... only to be confronted with a big space outside Central station where my first city rhino - Paladin - should have stood:

...gone AWOL!

A spot of amateur sleuthing later (interrogating the unfortunate ticket attendant at the station barrier - sorry! - and later the helpful staff in the tourist office who directed me to a difficult to find rhino in the shopping centre) revealed the sad fact Paladin had suffered an attack last week by students who knocked him off his plinth, and as a consequence has been returned to Paignton Zoo for repair before the auction. I couldn't even find his plinth, though without a rhino standing on it that's merely a concrete slab (plus the code for the draw... shame on whoever attacked this rhino and ruined the Trail for those who might be collecting the codes.)

What is more, it seems Paladin was not the only rhino to be attacked in the city during the Trail. Exeter's roving RhinoBeta3107 had his ear broken off not once, but twice during his journey around the city, and on top of that he was splashed by graffiti and twice returned to Paignton Zoo for repairs. This means RhinoBeta has apparently travelled more than 150 miles over the summer so he is now resting in a quieter countryside location until the end of the Trail. At least you can still see him, if you know where to look...

RhinoBeta - the one-eared rhino, now out to grass...
...and needing a hug.

It's a better view from up here!

So my Exeter rhino hunt started rather sadly, but inspired this poem by my unicorn-muse that I hope Paladin (who is a bit of a poet himself now, it seems) might approve of:

Poor Paladin!
I found a space
where you should have been
standing proud,
and only a crowd
who may not miss you
but I missed you!
My muse left central station
wondering who did this
and why?
Were you not pretty enough?
Were you not strong?
Did your horn offend?
Did your eye stare too long?
Were you too old?
Or too young?
Or simply silent
when others did you wrong?
Your plinth is gone now,
the trail is cold.
What fate the rhino
knighted of old?

Wondering how many other rhinos might have gone AWOL, I headed down the road to the Royal Albert Memorial Museum, where thankfully I found a considerably less exposed rhino lurking in the shadows on the way through to the exhibits:

Precious - no flash photos allowed in the museum.
Precious (who is supposed to look as if she's been wrapped in yellow tape) seemed to fit the mood of my city rhino hunt so I'm including her in this sad post - though there were also plenty of lovely colourful rhinos out enjoying the autumn sunshine in Exeter as well, like Hope down at the Quay spreading the message that inspired the Trail:

Hope... "who cares about rhinos?"

Come back next time for a more cheerful rhino's-eye view of the city!

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