On our way back to Cincinnati, we stopped by the Louisville Zoo. They had a lot of interesting animals, though I think the mom showing these kids around were guests, not residents.
Louisville is a fine zoo, though there were a few things I found odd. Most zoos ban smoking on the entire grounds, for the health of all animals (including the hairless primates visiting). Louisville actually had designated smoking areas. I found this to be extremely disappointing. Another factor was the walking path was very limiting–there were few cut-throughs to get to other areas quickly. This made doubling-back to see if an animal was awake difficult. Finally, they rotated some animals among enclosures, as enrichment. This is a good thing, however, it does make it difficult to see all the animals–this could likely be remedied by improved signage.
Of the nine subspecies of tiger, six remain among us. All of them are endangered in the wild, mostly due to poachers (who sell their parts for “traditional” medicine) and habitat lose.
The Cincinnati zoo has the Malayan tiger, the second smallest subspecies. The largest tiger is the Amur tiger, who, at 320 pounds, is about a third heavier. They were more commonly known as the Siberian tiger. “Amur” has become preferred as it more accurately reflects its habitat, which includes parts of China.
(That doesn’t stop me from referring to Beso, my largest cat, as a “Big Sigh-beer-ee–ann Tiy-grrr,” in a cheesy fake accent. He is just a big orange cat.)
The tiger exhibit at the Louisville Zoo is perhaps the best tiger exhibit I’ve seen. It allows the cats plenty of space, including a small pool to jump in, and a small slope. People can observe from two different angles, one of which has two stories, allowing good vantages on the animals. The signage is great. They also have some great murals, reflecting the art of the region. My personal favorite was the Soviet-style propaganda poster to the right. I would have loved a t-shirt with that design (perhaps in an earth tone, with the logo slightly distressed). Alas, they didn’t sell them.
The tiger decided to vocalize a bit. I was able to catch the last one on video (it seems slightly delayed relative to mouth movement). The tiger even gave a half-hearted encore.
Overall, it was a decent zoo with several very interesting exhibits.