Saber Saves the Day at the Columbus Zoo   1 comment

Zoo animals are ambassadors for their cousins in the wild.
–Jack Hanna, Director Emeritus of the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium

While we were in Columbus for the Dublin Irish Festival, we also went to the Columbus Zoo. Ohio has some great zoos, and while I am biased towards the Cincinnati Zoo and it’s large collection of cats and research efforts in conservation, the Columbus Zoo is perhaps a bit better known.

A few months ago, some Amur tiger cubs were born, and we wanted to see them while they were still little. Amur Tigers are one of six remaining tiger subspecies, and are the largest felines. The exhibit at the Columbus Zoo drives home the point about extinction quite dramatically as you approach their enclosure. One display, which I regret not having taken a photo of, had a pedestal to hold a tiger statue, done in a stylized Asian style. there was one pedestal for each of the nine subspecies. Three of the statues were broken (only part remaining) to represent the Bali, Caspian, and Javan tigers. These subspecies are now extinct.

The most magnificent creature in the entire world, the tiger is.
–Jack Hanna, Director Emeritus of the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium

When we got to the tigers, two were having breakfast, provided by mom.
Nursing Cubs 2

The other two were dozing under a tree. One thing I’ve learned about photographing animals at zoos, especially babies, is to be willing to go early and go back. So, when we returned…
Tiger Cub Cuddle Puddle

All four were under the tree. Not what I was hoping for. Still, they were cute.
Watching Cub

Mom was at least getting a break. She is a gorgeous cat!
Mom Gets a Great

OK. We’ll come back to them. Near the tigers was a red panda, a non-cat I’m becoming quite the fan of.
Red Panda Tail

“OH HAI!”
O HAI!

Several flying foxes were hanging around.
Flying Fox

Including a baby, in it’s own mini-cage. The adults were about the size of a cat; the baby would readily fit in my hand.
Baby Flying Fox

A new-to-me animal was the markhor. This member of the goat family was about the size of an adult deer. It lives primarily in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Their horns were great.
Markhor

A young elephant was tossing dust on it’s back.
Elephant Dusting

Those tiger cubs up yet?
Naptime

We were surprised to see clouded leopards–they weren’t on the web page. The zoo just got them-much of their enclosure’s signage still alluded to the sun bears that were there before. Clouded leopards are among my favorite cats, so it was a treat for us.
Cloudie Pals 1

These were relatively young ones–I’ll say “adolescent.”
Cloudie on the Platform

They are such pretty cats–just amazing!
Cloudie Pals 2

While we were standing their, someone mentioned that the cub was out. My wife and I looked at each other: “cub?!?” A clouded leopard cub, in fact. It was in an area by the entrance How did we miss it? Perhaps focus on the tiger cubs. We set out to see this cub, as it sounded like he might not be out long. By the way–where the tiger cubs up?
Low Cub

OK. They are cats, and cats sleep two-thirds of their life. And they are babies. Babies sleep a lot. These are definitely cute cubs, and it is great to see them. However, we really were hoping to see them romp around and play. I wouldn’t say the trip was a bust, but certainly not as exciting as we were hoping.

We went to the front, and saw a sign “Clouded Leopard Cub.” That’s the spot!
Saber Sits

His name is Saber, a four-month-old cub. He is being raised to be an ambassador animal, to go with Jack Hanna to educate people about these cats. Saber, however, was just being a kid, rolling around, and showing us his magnificent belly.
Saber's Belly 1

He prowled around his cage some.
Creeping Leopard

He was also very interested in seeing the people who gathered to see him. This will likely make him a great ambassador animal.
How Much is that Cloudie in the Window

The volunteer was there answering questions about these magnificent cats. At some point, she was stumped by a question. My daughter outed me as being a cat geek (it was either that, or my Snow Leopard Trust t-shirt). I filled in a few gaps, including explaining how snow leopards and clouded leopards were different. Saber relaxed and listened.
Clean Toes are Happy Toes

Of course, in spite of the name, neither snow leopards nor clouded leopards are more closely related to regular leopards than a tiger or house cat. Leopards are true, roaring big cats.
Leopard Back

We are fond of otters. The Asian small clawed otters romped around their enclosure.
Climbing Otters

Swimming Otters

They were quite chatty.
Chatty Otter


Should we go back to see if the tiger cubs have gotten up?
Disapproving Otter
Disapproving otter frowns on your tiger obsession.

A koala was sleeping in the trees of his enclosure.
Koala, Doing What Koalas Do Best

The kangaroo enclosure was a path with a mantrap on either end. You were basically in the exhibit. One keeper was standing by one kangaroo in particular. Caroline was her name. She was described as a troublemaker.
Caroline the Kangaroo

I find okapis very interesting. at a glance, they look like a horse/zebra hybrid. However, they are actually relatives of the giraffe. For the first time, I noticed their horns.
Okapi Profile

There were actually two okapi enclosures. One had an okapi…and a bunny friend.
Okapi and Friend
Look in the lower left-hand corner.

We wanted to see the moose, another situation where we went back twice. The second time, one was laying out front in the open.
Moose in the Grass

Earlier, however, they were in a cuddle puddle.
Moose Cuddle Puddle

Speaking of cuddle puddles, I’ve never seen manatees in one before.
Manatee Cuddle Puddle

We saw lounging lady lions.
Lounging Lady Lions

And mountain lions.
Cougar Bath

Next door ware bobcats, taking a nap.
Bobcat Nap

Bobcat, Resting His Eyes
Maybe just resting his eyes.

We didn’t get to see a beaver during our trip to Canada, but one did come and say “hi” to us–he even waved!
Waving Beaver

They moved quite like the otters.
Beaver Pushes Off

The Mexican wolves were gorgeous.
Mexican Wolf

Whether walking around.
Approaching Wolf

Or doing Pilates.
Downward Facing Wolf
Downward-Facing…um…Dog.

It was a great day at a great Ohio zoo. The tigers were not as exciting as we hoped, however they are wild animals doing what comes naturally, not performers. When you go to a zoo, you need to enjoy that behavior, and still appreciate what magnificent creatures they are. Still, as a treat, we got to see Saber. In a sense, he was there to save the day!
Catnap

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One response to “Saber Saves the Day at the Columbus Zoo

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  1. I feel like I have been to the zoo myself, now. Thank you!
    Strangely, I just discovered markhors in the last month, too! Fascinating animals!

    And Okapis are one of my favorite amazing animals.

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