Apenheul

With Thursday being a public holiday, we took a trip to the Netherlands to visit Apenheul, a zoo of free roaming primates. It’s exactly what it says it is and is really rather good.

What you have is essentially a large forest, through which you follow a path allowing you to see the animals close up and in a pretty-much natural state. This is particularly true of the smaller monkeys which can, and do, come very close to visitors. Larger apes, such as gorillas and orangutans are a little more separate, being housed on islands that put them a bit more out of reach.

We turned up at about 11:30 intending to eat first and then explore. It didn’t quite work like that because as soon as the boys saw the monkeys, and realised just how close they would come, all lunchtime thoughts were forgotten. It took us two hours to make it to the restaurant and, by the time the zoo closed at 5:00, we still hadn’t seen everything.

It took us two hours to get there, which isn’t too bad, and the boys are all keen to go back. If (when) we do, however, will will probably leave a little earlier and try to find some food on the way as the food in the zoo is not that substantial — it’s all chips and sandwiches which is fine for a snack but not much of a meal.

That said, there is a restaurant — De Boschvijver — close to the car park, and it turned out to be very nice indeed. The outside terrace, especially, provides a great opportunity to enjoy dinner while looking out over a lake.

Apenheul is also involved in several nature conservation projects around the world through their Apenheul Primate Conservation Trust (APCT). Being a big coffee drinker, the Yellow-tailed woolly monkey project is the one that appealed to me most.

By providing local people with a sustainable way of producing coffee, we get their support for our conservation goals. Farmers who previously had to cut down hectares of the forest for their livestock, now only need a one hectare coffee plantation to generate enough income. We buy this coffee at a fair price and then serve it to our visitors!

The coffee is called Lazy Monkey, and it’s pretty good.

The Boys

April 30th is Koninginnedag, a public holiday in the Netherlands. It’s not a public holiday in Belgium but we cracked out the orange and took a trip across the border. I didn’t take a lot of photos of the festivities, but I do quite like this one of the boys, getting ready to do whatever they’re planning on doing.

Bill O’Reilly’s statistical illiteracy

I don’t think I’ve ever mentioned Fox News before, and it’s certainly not a channel I feel any need to pay any attention to. But this is incredible:

Here’s the pull quote, from Bill O’Reilly, starting at 2:40.

The way they do the statistics in the Netherlands is different, plus its a much smaller country, it’s a much smaller base to do the stats on.

So my question is this: Is Bill O’Reilly really as statistically illiterate as he appears, or is he just assuming that his entire audience is made up of morons?

Fire in Moerdijk

There was a fire in the town of Moerdijk today and it seems to have been a big one. So big, in fact, that it was visible from the A16. The photo below isn’t very clear, but the orange blur is the fire as seen from the A16.

Updated

Moerdijk fire under control

The fire at the Chemie-Pack chemical plant in Moerdijk has been brought under control. The police report that the fire has gone out at most of the site, only the office building is still burning. Moerdijk Mayor Wim Denie has announced that the fire brigade will start covering the site in a blanket of foam at 22.30 local time to definitively put out the fire. The mayor has urgently called on all residents of the towns of Moerdijk, Hoeksche Waard, Alblasserwaard en Zwijndrechtsewaard to close all doors and windows and keep pets indoors because the operation can create large quantities of foul-smelling smoke which can cause irritation to the eyes and skin. The A16 motorway near Moerdijk has been closed over a distance of 10 kilometres because the smoke could endanger traffic.

Earlier today, the highest level alarm was declared in the south of the province of South Holland because of a massive fire at a chemical plant which belongs to the Chemie-Pack company. A huge cloud of toxic black smoke drifted north and even reached the town of Dordrecht. Residents in the area were being advised to stay indoors and keep their doors and windows closed.

There have been no reports of any severe injuries thus far. It’s also not known what started the fire, which was being accompanied by explosions and jets of flame. One or more storage tanks at the plant may have exploded. Large quantities of flammable, toxic and corrosive material are stored on the industrial estate where the Chemie-Pack plant is located.

The fire brigade deployed hundreds of fire fighters to battle the blaze and the Shell company firebrigade lent its assistance. The defence ministry sent to two special fire engines with water cannon on their roofs to the disaster area, and the justice ministry activated the Landelijk Operationeel Coördinatiecentrum National Operational Coordination Centre.

The fire also spread to the Wärtsilä plant, a company which produces parts for diesel engines. Two exits of the A17 motorway near Moerdijk were closed and shipping on the nearby Hollandsch Diep and Oude Maas waterways was halted.

The Dutch Safety Board has launched an investigation into the fire in Moerdijk. A spokesperson for the Board says that researchers have already begun collecting data. The Dutch Safety Board will investigate the cause and backgrounds of the fire, as well as the effectiveness of the emergency services.