Not your average koi

These gargantuan beasts reside in the lake in the park near my home. Can you see that bird, sort of in the higher middle portion of this picture? Well, that bird is as large as a duck, and it's completely dwarfed by the koi, all of them out on full snack alert.

Koi are carp, by the way, those ordinarily lithe, bright-colored fish that ornament most Japanese ponds. I don't know what happened to these guys--well, partially overfeeding from the adoring masses armed with bags of white sandwich bread despite the "Do not feed" signs. But these big lugs, when they joyfully leap out of the water on warm summer days, it sounds like some kind of swamp monster doing a cannonball dive or a big old belly flop. Quite a surprising sound, I assure you, in this peaceful neighborhood.

But they're definitely not monsters. Tame as puppies. And greedy!

The park--and the lake within--is quite big, but you can approach the edge of the water at any point, stand there a few seconds, and pretty soon the water will be rippling with oily gray bodies and alarmingly large gaping mouthes. You'll feel just like Snow White, effortlessly calling the wild creatures to her...just minus the pretty birds, fluffy bunnies, and baby deer.

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