When your hiking habit shifts its attention to city streets, because of the pandemic, you need to take wildlife sightings when and where you can. On Saturday morning I enjoyed a chorus of frogs in Zürich’s Irchel park. On Sunday morning I roamed the old streets of central Zürich looking for photographic opportunities. On a deserted Bahnhofstrasse — the largest and swankiest street in the shopping district — one little opportunity scurried toward me on the sidewalk. This rat, an albino, popped into a tree well to sniff through the debris left by humans who’d strolled by the day before.
I thought he was rather cute, although I simultaneously thought of the association between rats and pandemics, which has happened so often that it must now be deeply ingrained in human consciousness as well as human history.
Sadly, I’ve noticed in the past month that Zürich has become, well, trashier. Perhaps the epidemic has sickened many city workers, or they’ve been diverted to tasks other than sweeping streets and emptying public trash bins. Or perhaps it is a normal trend in springtime – who knows, this is my first spring in Zürich. In any case, this rat is living and exploring the same street – indeed, directly across the street from – where I saw a homeless man sleeping just a few weeks ago.