Our summer vacation took us eastward this year. Our first stop was Philadelphia. There, we checked out the Philadelphia Zoo, the nation’s oldest zoo. I was rather impressed by their animals, as well as the enrichment they were afforded.
One of the neatest bits of enrichment was Zoo360 Animal Exploration Trail, a series of enclosed paths for animals to meander. They had it for primates, but I first encountered some goats.
But the coolest was yet to come: Big Cat Crossing. This path allowed their lions, jaguars, leopard, cougars, and snow leopards to explore the zoo. When we were there, a pair of tiger brothers, born at the Columbus Zoo, were watching the crowds.
They really are handsome cats.
In the big cat area, we also got to see lions.
Maya, a female snow leopard was there with her two (older) cubs, Buck and Ranney. The cubs were quite active, pouncing and wrestling with each other.
Though her kids tried to get her into the mix, Mama Maya decided to stay above the fray.
Such a pretty snow leopard!
The tiger girls were in their enclosure, stalking.
One came right up to the glass I was crouching by to take pictures, and sprayed right next to me. At first I was disgusted, until my daughter pointed out by “marking” me, she was claiming me. I was…honored…really.
There were black-footed kittens!
Of course, they were all asleep. Still quite cute.
Was this one getting up?
Nope. Just shifting.
A Canadian lynx sat in the sun.
There was a cheetah nearby. A keeper gave a talk, discussing his encounters with different cheetahs who passed through his care. The cheetahs had a lure system, which the keeper seemed surprised was good enrichment for the worlds fastest mammal.
The series of tubes proves to be enrichment for homo saphiens, too.
My daughters new favorite animal is the red panda, which I’m a fan of, too.
Quite cute and fluffy!
Tony is a southern white rhino with a big horn!
Ever see a Galapagos tortoise cuddle puddle?
I liked watching the maned wolf. Such striking color.
Having obsessed over their pens lately, it was nice to see brown pelicans Crackle and Snap.
Overall, I really enjoyed the Philadelphia Zoo. It was a good size for walking around and spending a day, and they clearly cared a lot about their animals. And the animals seemed to enjoy each other.
I didn’t know Eddy had a bike shop. Think he can get me a deal?
Neighborhood recipe exchange
Beso lays on the floor.
Biked to work, realized a packed incorrectly.
We’re running out of tigers.
In the last century, we’ve gone from over 100,000 tigers to 3,000 tigers in the wild. There are more captive tigers in the United States than in the wild–only six percent of which is in AZA accredited zoos.
Today is International Tiger Day, a day to bring attention to the plight of these great cats.
Poaching is a large part of this, but habitat lose is the key thing.
How can you help? Palm oil is causing a great deal of habitat lose for these great cats. Select products using sustainable palm oil. The Cincinnati Zoo actually has a cool web app to help you make tiger-friendly choices.
My wife came home from our mailbox with a new mystery box for me. I love mystery boxes! This one I was not expecting.
Remember my ill-fated Pelikan Hub?
On top of all the other cool things Pelikan did he wonderful folks at Pelikan sent their hub masters a thank you gift.
I’d admired these ceramic pelicans for a long time, having seen them at pen shows and online. It’s about six inches tall, and has a hole to hold a pen (in this case, my Souverän 600). I was extremely excited as I unwrapped it.
“How do you hold that pen?”
So, a “thank you” goes out to the fine folks at Pelikan for a very nice, and very unnecessary, present. Even though the Cincinnati Hub had an extremely low turn-out, the pleasure was all mine.
Our last stop during our Romantic Weekend in Akron was a drive-by of the Airdock, the construction hanger of Goodyear Areospace, now owned by Lockheed Martin.
The Airdock was used during World War II for the construction of military blimps. It is 55 million cubic feet of empty space–it’s large enough to have its own weather inside. Lockheed is looking at building new airships inside this large building.
The other thing we did on our Romantic Weekend in Akron was ride on the Towpath, a bike trail that parallels the Ohio and Erie Canal. However, instead of a simple out-and-back, we only biked back to our car–we took a train south.
The Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad. The train goes between a northern suburb of Akron, to Independence, a southern suburb of Cleveland. It runs through The Cuyahoga Valley National Park, a national forest. Lots of people buy tickets to ride the train round trip, and enjoy the sights and activities. During the summer, however, they offer the Bike Aboard program. Partnering with a local hospital, they offer a one-way rate that is a sixth the cost of the round trip fair for cyclists. The goal is to encourage people to ride on the trail for health an exercise.
It sounded like fun, so, after going to the zoo, my wife and I drove to Independence, and caught the last southbound train at Rockside station.
Once the train arrived, they unloaded the bikes that were heading north.
Our bikes were stowed in the car behind where we sat.
We took our seats, and enjoyed the sites out the window.
Including traffic stopping for our train.
And had a lot of fun.
At Akron Northside, our train bikes were unloaded, and we started heading north. We wanted to make sure we covered the distance before sunset, so we didn’t stop too much, and I didn’t get many photos. One stop we did make was at Szaay’s a farmer’s market. They were closing, but it smelled wonderful walking around.
We got to our car just as dusk was setting in. It was a great time, and a wonderful program. We’re already discussing taking our daughter for a ride on the train.
Hat tip to the DiscoveringOhio blog, who posted an artical that clued me in to this. Their timely tweet is a great source of fun things to do in our wonderful state.
My daughter has been at camp this month, leaving my wife and I alone. This gave us a weekend to ourselves. We felt that the combination of being temporarily childless and our anniversary entitled us to a romantic weekend away…
Not an obvious choice, but there were a couple things we thought would want to do. One of the things we wanted to check out was the Akron Zoo. Zoos are a favorite of my family, but, in particular, we wanted to see Malaya and Makalu, their baby snow leopards.
They weren’t quite three months old when we got to see them, and were only out for about an hour-and-a-half. There was a line to see them–groups were allowed to go to the window, and you could get back in line (which we did–four times). It was actually well run. When we got there, Malaya, the girl, was climbing about as snow leopards (and, really, all kittens) are want to do.
Her brother was dozing at first.
On our second pass, he moved to the other side, where he could see the deer in the next enclosure.
It was then that we realized that Shanti, their mother, was in there with her. She was quite stunning.
With mom around, everyone settled in for a nap (and a family portrait).
I have a 16:9 aspect ratio version of this photo for use as wallpaper on Flickr.
We walked by the snow leopard enclosure later–it was near the entrance–and Roscoe, the father was out. He was equally handsome.
If a bit cheeky.
Near the snow leopards was a cool jaguar.
Jaguars are one of three cat species who enjoy going in water (along with tigers, and, of course, fishing cats). This jaguar wanted his floaty.
Speaking of tigers, Jae Jae was dozing. Cats do sleep a good chunk of their days.
Shani and Tamarr, the lion couple looked quite magnificent on their perch.
The second most interesting cat was an example of felis silvestris catus, a domestic cat.
She was stealing the food from a pair of storks.
We were told that this was a stray who had a kitten. The keepers were trying to catch her, but haven’t had much luck. They said that the storks don’t seem to mind. The cat, however, got a bit annoyed when they took a step too close.
One thing we did learn in all this is that storks are carnivores. I hadn’t really considered it one way or the other.
The birds were pretty cool. They had five non-releasable bald eagles.
I’m afraid I got a bit too close to the burrowing owl. Once again, I’m sorry, little guy!
The flamingos were hanging about in their pond. They always make me think of my mom.
Two different canids were present. We loved watching the coyote run around, even without a road runner.
Next door, a red wolf napped in the sun.
“Why did you wake me?” (We didn’t really wake him, but he did look like he could use a cup of coffee.)
The otters got a great tank to swim in, and we could easily get different views of them–and them us!
I love to see red pandas, even when they are in a ball, as Zheng demonstrates.
There was a small aquarium, which had lionfish, a favorite of mine.
And a Galapagos tortoise sunning himself.
I really liked the Akron Zoo. It is a smaller zoo, but all the enclosures seemed very up to date. Their app is awesome, and gives the names for many animals (in some cases, I couldn’t tell who’s who, but nice to have some idea). They had some neat displays, such as one showing how coral exhibits photoluminescence.
There was a slide that went through part of the otter’s tank. They could easily stay away from it, but I saw them swim along with sliding kids (or, kids at heart).
There was a cool sculpture by the eagles.
One think I really liked was that almost every enclosure had a tag for an advocacy group for that animal. For instance, by the snow leopards, there was one for the Snow Leopard Trust. Appropriately, I was wearing one of their t-shirts.
We had a great time at the Akron Zoo, and definitely think we’ll need to go back with our daughter.
I’ve been a bad blogger.
In March, 2012, I decided to shoot for twenty posts a month. I was open to how that would be done. Sometimes it would just be a picture, or an embeded YouTube video. Other times, it would be something longer, like photos from a zoo trip, or a pen profile. The idea of a goal was to have a way to drive producing some content, and perhaps sharpen my writing.
It did that decently, until the last several months. Last October, it dipped, and it’s been unstable since. then, this month, the wheels fell off the wagon. It’s the eleventh day of the month, and this is my first post. I sincerely doubt I’ll do twenty.
Why? Hard to say. Part of it has been that I’ve ironically had a lot going on, and just not taking the time to write. There have been lots of bike rides, cooking, pens, and cats. Part of it has been a quality thing: I don’t want to post the same ten pictures from the zoo.
But I still value the exercise in writing, photography, and other disciplines. I know that, even if no one else reads it, I like having the log of what happened–it makes for a great diary.
So, I’m taking the pressure off myself. My goal is now half. Ten posts a month sounds good, with a stretch goal of twenty. Hopefully, a more achieviable goal will prevent this blog from fading.
My whole family did Ride Cincinnati!
On a ride, we came across a turtle, which we held across the road. Of course, not before taking a #shellfie.
Map of my Buckeye Bridge Ride.
Hard to believe they are littermates.