Archive for the ‘Galápagos tortoises’ Category

The Philadelphia Zoo is a Series of Tubes   Leave a comment

Tiger in the Tube

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.
Goats on a Bridge

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.
Tiger Tube

Looking Down on Us

They really are handsome cats.
The Sun is Too Bright!

In the big cat area, we also got to see lions.
Makini the Lion

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.
Tag! You're It!

Teasing a Sib


Tusslin' Flurry

Pondering the Next Pounce

Though her kids tried to get her into the mix, Mama Maya decided to stay above the fray.
Happy Maya

Such a pretty snow leopard!
Pretty Maya

The tiger girls were in their enclosure, stalking.
Stalking Tiger


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.
Contemplative Tiger

There were black-footed kittens!
Sleeping Like a Log 2

Of course, they were all asleep. Still quite cute.
Cats Love Boxes (Whatever Kind They Are)

Was this one getting up?
Wrong Side of the Bed

Nope. Just shifting.
Sleeping Like a Log

A Canadian lynx sat in the sun.
Sunny Lynx

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.
Philly Cheetah

Cheetah Trot

The series of tubes proves to be enrichment for homo saphiens, too.
Rebecca in the Tubes

My daughters new favorite animal is the red panda, which I’m a fan of, too.

Quite cute and fluffy!
Snack Time

On the Platform

Tony is a southern white rhino with a big horn!
Tony, the Southern White Rhino

Ever see a Galapagos tortoise cuddle puddle?
Tortoise Cuddle Puddle

Serious close-up!
Snugglin' Tortoise

I liked watching the maned wolf. Such striking color.
Maned Wolf

Having obsessed over their pens lately, it was nice to see brown pelicans Crackle and Snap.
Snap and Crackle

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.
Changing of the Guard

Baby Snow Leopards at the Akron Zoo   2 comments

Otter Sculpture

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…

To Akron.

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.
Cub on an Incline

On the Cliff

Climbing Cub

Her brother was dozing at first.
Tuckered Out

On our second pass, he moved to the other side, where he could see the deer in the next enclosure.
Interested Cup

It was then that we realized that Shanti, their mother, was in there with her. She was quite stunning.
Mama Shanti

With mom around, everyone settled in for a nap (and a family portrait).
Sleepy 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.
Roscoe the Snow Leopard

If a bit cheeky.
I Think I'm Annoying Roscoe

Near the snow leopards was a cool jaguar.
Pretty 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.
Getting the Ring

Got it!
Grabbing the Ring

Speaking of tigers, Jae Jae was dozing. Cats do sleep a good chunk of their days.
Tiger Doze

Shani and Tamarr, the lion couple looked quite magnificent on their perch.
Lion Couple

The second most interesting cat was an example of felis silvestris catus, a domestic cat.
Sneaky 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.
Bald Eagle

I’m afraid I got a bit too close to the burrowing owl. Once again, I’m sorry, little guy!
Burrowing Owl

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.
Running Coyote

Happy guy!
Coyote Grin

Next door, a red wolf napped in the sun.
Rolling in the Grass

“Why did you wake me?” (We didn’t really wake him, but he did look like he could use a cup of coffee.)
Wolf Needs His Coffee

The otters got a great tank to swim in, and we could easily get different views of them–and them us!
Diving Otter

I love to see red pandas, even when they are in a ball, as Zheng demonstrates.
Firefox Ball

There was a small aquarium, which had lionfish, a favorite of mine.

And a Galapagos tortoise sunning himself.
Sunning tortoise

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.
glow in the dark

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).
Otter Slide

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.
Romantic Weekend in Akron

We had a great time at the Akron Zoo, and definitely think we’ll need to go back with our daughter.
Nap on a Log

Good Luck, Little Cheetah (and Baby Fennec Foxes!)   2 comments

I had taken Friday off, and took the opportunity to go to the Cincinnati Zoo with my wife. I had two purposes in mind. First, Savannah, the baby cheetah, was scheduled to leave the nursery and join the Cat Ambassador Program. We wanted to see her before she headed off to “school.”
What to Play with Next?

The folks at the nursery (and I think someone from the Cat Ambassador Program) had her out, so she could romp around and play. It was very much like watching Beso and Luna play. She would wrestle her toys.
Wrestling Savannah

Cheetah Pounce!

Lemme out!
Lemme Out!

What is it about cats and boxes?
Cats'n'Boxes #3

It appears to be universal among the felidae family.
Cats'n'Boxes #2

Cats'n'Boxes #1

She had grown quite a bit–while Beso might out-weigh her, she was bigger than a house cat in most other ways. I look forward to seeing her run. Until then, I wish her luck in her training.
Pettins for Savannah

There was something we wanted to see in the Night Hunters exhibit. Along the way, the folks at the Galápagos tortoises hands-on were calling people over. The turtles wanted some attention, but no one was walking over. How could we say no?
Top of the Rocks


We went in through the out door to see what snow leopards Renji and Nubo were up to. Apparently, doing what cats do best.
Dozing Snow Leopard

I only learned that the Cincinnati Zoo had two clouded leopards this year. I’ve only rarely seen them together, They were hard to see, but the cloudies were engaging in a bit of communal grooming.
Communal Grooming

We were very tight on time–my wife and I merely glanced at the black footed cat and sand cat, and I just peeked in to say high to the caracal. I snapped a quick shot of the fishing cat.
Watching Fishing Cat

On this occasion, we actually weren’t actually there to see cats. There was something special in the fennec fox enclosure. What’s this one looking at?
Fennec Parent

Not one…
One Fennec Fox Baby

Not two…
Two Fennec Fox Babie

But three baby fennec foxes!
Three Fennec Fox Babie

They were extremely active, running around and playing little fox games. They’ll probably be there for a while, so I’m sure I’ll get more pictures. But, for an afternoon off, it was fun just to peek in.
Fennec Fox Baby 1

Sleeping Snow Leopards and Running Cheetahs   3 comments

After the problems of the previous day, we decided to get an early start, and go to the zoo. I was in full cat-geek mode, complete with a t-shirt from the Snow Leopard Trust.

We’ve been enjoying the Galápagos tortoises. One was eating leaves and walking among the visitors with on the path. I asked the keeper–her belief was the tortoises get in moods when they want the attention.

There was also a Major Mitchell’s Cockatoo nearby. He was enjoying the mist.
Major Mitchell’s Cockatoo

I was very excited to see Renji, the female snow leopard we saw as a cub in Chatanooga, and her new pal, Nubo. They reminded me that cats spend about two-thirds of their lives sleeping.
Cozy Renji and Nobu

And, you really don’t want to disturb a kitty.
Disturbed Snow Leopard

The enclosure is fairly large–much larger than where they kept the snow leopards before. Lots of room to run around, and mountain like rocks to blend in with. Perfect place to raise a family–Just sayin’
On a Bed of Rocks

I wasn’t able to get many really good pictures of the Malayan tigers. They also have an upgraded enclosure, and glass the can walk right up to.
Malayan Tiger

We also got to got to the Cheetah Encounter. This year, Sihil, an ocelot, got to demonstrate her climbing skills. Sihil is noteworthy not just because she is an absolutely stunning cat, but because she was the first ocelot born from a frozen embryo. This was done at the Cincinnati Zoo’s Conservation and Research of Endangered Wildlife (CREW).
Sihil the Ocelot
Truth be told, ocelots always look a little to me like they are wearing pajamas. Of course, if you sleep two-thirds of your life, it would make sense.

Ocelots are one of three cat species that can descend a tree head-first–a fairly useful adaptation.
Going Down

They discussed how house cats can be trained. Perhaps Luna has career options other than hacker ninja princess.
Jumping Through Hoops

Cleo the serval demonstrates their amazing leaping ability.
On the Ball

Minnow the fishing cat came out, and shows that some cats like water.
Splish Splash

I caught a video of her high dive.

Which required a quick spin dry.
Spin Cycle

…and a snack.
Fishing Cat Treat
Fishing cats are so cool!

This was my first Cheetah Encounter with my new camera. It can shoot at six frames per second, twice what its predecessor could achieve. So, when Bravo made his run, I was able to get some great shots.
Flying After the Lure

They said Bravo was their slowest cheetah. My wife wondered how he felt about being called that. I figure his attitude is, “I’m still faster than you, primate.”
Closing In

Sarah, the world’s fastest cheetah, also ran. Overall, I got great shots of the floating phase of their stride.
Sarah in Flight

Cheetahs use their high-speed to hunt. Unfortunately, this precludes a pouncing attack, like with other cats such as a lion or a black-footed cat. Instead, they use a claw on their wrist to trip their prey, which they then suffocate. This means that in addition to their tremendous speed, they have to have excellent brakes. Their are pads up their forearms for this, allowing a skidding stop. Both cheetahs demonstrated this impressively, with dust flying everywhere. Sarah overshot her lure, but the brakes allowed her not to get too far from it.
Cheetah Brakes!
Probably my favorite picture of the set.

At first, she wouldn’t give back the lure.
Not Giving it Back

But, eventually, she settled in to the shade.
Cheetah in the Shade

My neighborhood, Columbia-Tusculum, was ground zero for the introduction of the European Wall Lizard, which is a cute but invasive species. They have been spreading throughout Cincinnati. This is the first one I’ve noticed at the zoo, about five miles away from my house.
Wall Lizard

It’s a horrible picture, but I had to share. This was the first time I’ve seen the pallas cat up close to the glass. He seemed less fluffy than normal.
Pallas Cat Up Close

The caracal, which my friends at ISEC have nicknamed Miss Lop Ears, was in a very relaxed position.
Miss Lop Ears Relaxes

She has amazing eyes.
Caracal Portrait

Her bobcat friend was actually up high. Still handsome.
Bobcat Face

At that point, we wanted lunch and to be out of the heat. Still, it was a great way to make up for the day before.

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