Archive for the ‘giraffe’ Category

Riverbanks Zoo and Garden in Columbia, South Carolina   1 comment

Our path back to Cincinnati from Florida took us through South Carolina. We took a break at the Riverbanks Zoo and Garden, in Columbia. It was a smaller zoo, but had some wonderful exhibits. The first thing we saw was one of my wife’s long-standing favorites, koalas.
Sleepy Koala

We saw two, each in their own tree. We looks a bit closer, and realized our count was off.
Mom and Joey

One of the koalas had a joey, a little baby, sleeping snuggly with its mom.
Snug Little Baby

Neither did much other than doze. We talked to a keeper, who showed us a video on her phone of the joey riding around on its mother’s back. Cute!

The koalas weren’t the only antipodal animal.
Who's Looking at You, 'Roo?

Dragons were hanging out.
Dragon Pile

One thing I did not like, at least in th aquarium/reptile area, was the lack of signage. I’m not sure if this is an alligator or crocodile. He looked happy either way.
Croc Grin

Perhaps because they were playing “dogpile on the turtle.”
Crocpile on the Turtle

One of the many things I learned reading Bill Nye’s book, Undeniable: Evolution and the Science of Creation, is that a group of giraffes is called a “column.”
Column of Giraffes

They had a pretty good cat collection, divided between large and small cats. In fact, they had the largest cat, the Amur tiger.
Amur Tiger

They had two lions, this handsome male…
Perched Lion

…and this shy female (actually, she was just washing her face).
Embarrassed Lion

Winking Lion

The website indicated they had black-footed cats. Other sources didn’t mention BFCs, but did allude to fishing cats. We weren’t sure what we’d get to see. We first came across a pair of fishing cats.
Fishing Cat Profile

They are among my favorite felids. We got to see a surprising number of different cats on this trip: snow leopards, jaguars, cougars, leopards, tigers, lions, servals, caracals, lynes, bobcats, fishing cats, sand cats, and black-footed cats. Fourteen in all (fifteen if you include a felis silvestris catus we saw at a bookstore).

Perched Fishing Cat

I like to take pictures of cats yawning.
Big Yawn!

As I mentioned, they had a representative of the largest of the cat family, the Amur tiger. The black-footed cat is the second smallest cat.
Black Footed Cat in Front

They are fierce predators–I wouldn’t want to meet one in a dark alley. These two, however, were having fun peeking around their log.

BFC Stalks the Feather

It was a fun stop, and we enjoyed seeing some of our favorite animals.
He's Looking Right At Me

Baby Giraffe!   4 comments

I took the day after TOSRV as PTO. My wife had the afternoon off, and after lunch, we decided to pop into the Cincinnati Zoo. It was very spontaneous–I didn’t have my DSLR, but I had my iPhone. The perfect camera is the one you have with you.

Why? Why to see Nasha, of course.
Pretty Nasha

Nasha is a baby giraffe born on April 28. Here she is with her mom, Tessa, and an “aunt.”
Nasha, her Mom, and an "Aunt"

Outside was her dad, Kimba.
Kimba, the Father

It was Nubo’s birthday, so we stopped over to wish him well.
Nubo Relaxes

Finally, on the way out, we saw Jack, a baby camel.
Baby Camel

All in all, it was a fun afternoon at the zoo.

HallZOOWeen Twenty-Thirteen   Leave a comment


The Cincinnati Zoo wrapped up HallZOOween this weekend. We always enjoy going. My daughter went as Hello Kitty.

We got to see Gizmo, the African white-faced owl, again. He had just come to Cincinnati last time we got to meet him. He’s really a cool bird.

Nearby, we got to see all three members of our giraffe family.

John the lion looked increadibly regal.
Golden John

He was very interestedin what we were doing.

John on the Ridge

The artic foxes are changing from their summer to winter coats. Still, there were a fwe spots of grey.
Getting Out His Winter Coat

The black bear was taking a nap.
Practice Nap

I’m really not sure what this cougar was looking at (I can’t tell if it was Joseph or Techumseh without seeing their face). Watching them, I could see my cats’ moves in them.
What Does He See?

Nubo was looking for something, too.
What Does Nubo See?

It simply bored Renji.
Renji Sings!

Nubo then wandered off.
Nubo Stalks

We’ve become quite taken with red pandas–they’re definitely towards the top of my non-cat list.
Firefox Strut

The zoo has a baby red panda, but he wasn’t out. I suspect this was one of his parents, eating bamboo.
Nomming Bamboo

Overall, it was a great day at the zoo.

Birthday at the Zoo   5 comments

Yesterday (June 3) was my birthday. My mom had come up, and wanted to see the zoo. It’s such a hardship for me…

The key reason she wanted to go was to see Gladys, an infant gorilla.
Happy Surrogate

Her mother, a first-time mom, wasn’t taking good care of her, so the folks who run the gorilla Species Survival Plan (SSP) met. They determined that the Cincinnati Zoo, with a long track record of baby gorillas, would be a great place for her. Right now, she is being raised by a team of human surrogates. They treat her as a gorilla mom would, so they can eventually hand her off to a gorilla mom. They are taking great pains to ensure that she is not overly bonded to humans.
Humans Make Great Beds

She was sleeping when we first got there. The head of the gorilla department (and on the SSP) gave a talk, and they listened.
Gladys and her Surrogate Listen

Then Gladys decided it was time for climbing practice.
Eating the Rope

"I'm Getting the Hang of This"

As I said, the keepers in no way see Gladys as a pet. Still, it must be an incredible experience to be part of saving an animal like her. I admire the keepers who take the time to do this, and make a point of doing it right.
Climbing Practice

This is a Major Mitchell’s Cockatoo, who was watching us.
Major Mitchell’s Cockatoo

My mom has always liked elephants.
Asian Elephant in the Bushes

The male is named Sabu. We spent a good while watching him, and talking to a volunteer. He clearly loved this animal.
Sabu, the Asian Elephant Bull

Dunbar was greeting guests with a keeper. He’s a plated lizard. She said that his ear holes are connected–you can actually see through his head when the light is right.
Dunbar, the Plated Lizard

Lulu, the baby giraffe was out.
Lulu Gets a Snack

She seems big to me…until I look at her parents.
Giraffe Family

Going with my mom meant I went to parts of the zoo I don’t normally go to. For instance, I don’t often see this clever Sumatran orangutan.
Sumatran Orangutang in the Shade

Or Kenneth, the large spotted genet.
Kenneth, the Large Spotted Genet

It was my birthday, so, of course that meant cats! We went to go see the cheetah run, where serval Jambo showed his jumping ability.
Jambo Jumps

Chance had a great run (and I got artsy with my photography (what do you think?)).
Chance's Run

Baby cheetah Savanna ran–the first time I got to see her go.
Savanna Runs!

She’s grown a lot. What a beautiful cat!
Savanna Taking Off

Of course, when running on as even a nice day as we had, it’s important to stay hydrated.
Thirsty Girl

While at the Cheetah Encounter, we saw two zoo celebrities. Thane Maynard, the director of the zoo, was talking to some folks as we came in. Sitting two rows in front of us was Catheryn Hilker, who established the cheetah program, as well as the person who had the idea of zoos taking animals to schools. She’s one of the reasons we have cheetahs in the world today. I thought about saying “hi,” but got embarrassed, and didn’t.

I wanted to see the snow leopards. Renji was being a bit lazy.
Yawning Renji

What was really cool was they were giving Nubo a snack! We got to be relatively close to him, and watched him dine. He is an amazing cat–look at those paws!
Nubo's Snack


Nubo was in a very playful mood, pouncing at Renji, in a game of tag I’ve seen my cats play. The things she has to put up with!

What a gorgeous girl!
Dreamy Snow Leopard

What about the Pallas’ kittens?
"Where We Going, Mom?"

They were following their mom around.
"Where's Mom Going?"

So patient.
Huddling Around Mom

As is the ocelot mother, whose ocelittle was thought her tail was a great toy.
Mom's Tail Makes a Great Ocelittle Toy

The bobcat watched us. Miss Lop-Ears the caracal wasn’t there…hope she was OK.
The Bobcat is Awake!

It was a great day, with great weather. I’m glad my mom got to spend my birthday with me and my family at the Cincinnati Zoo.

Snow Leopard Appreciation Day   1 comment

In honor of their new cubs, the Chattanooga Zoo declared today, November 17, 2012, as “Snow Leopard Appreciation Day.” Renji, one of the snow leopards at the Cincinnati Zoo, was born in Chattanooga (we even went to see her as a cub). We thought observing Snow Leopard Appreciation Day with her would be a great idea.

The Cincinnati Zoo was set up for the Festival of Lights. At least one of the light displays was going to be appropriate for the day’s theme.
Snow Leopard Lights

When we got to the snow leopard enclosure, they were sorta milling about. Nubo, the male, was up on one of the higher points of the enclosure.
Nubo Profile

Where Renji was hanging out at the other end.
Gorgeous Renji
Gorgeous snow leopard!

Nubo came closer to the center, and laid down.
Mellow Nubo

Renji thought this would be a great idea!
Renji and Nubo Relax

Gradually, some communal grooming ensued.
Snow Leopard Cuddles

We also watched the tigers. One decided to lay on his back.
Tiger on His Side

Really, we’ve seen Beso do this a million times.
Rolling Tiger


No idea what Joseph saw, but I’m glad it wasn’t me.
Joe Wants Something

We went in and saw a Stellar’s sea eagle.
Stellar Sea Eagle

We also checked in on Lulu, the baby giraffe. She wasn’t out in the yard, but she was sitting more in the center of her barn.
Baby Lulu

Overall, it was a great day to appreciate snow leopards!
Communal Grooming

HallZOOween 2012 at the Cincinnati Zoo   Leave a comment

We went to the Cincinnati Zoo, in part so my daughter could participate in HallZOOween, their annual trick-or-treating at the zoo event. She went as a black cat.
Caitlin the Cat!

However, there were two babies we wanted to see. First, Lulu was a baby giraffe born on October 12. She stayed in her stable, close to the wall. All we could see was her head.
Lulu Hides from the Camera

We keep talking about how cute and tiny she is, even though she was taller than me when she was born. However, when she stands next to her mother, Tessa, you can tell. Again, she didn’t do that, but Tessa was in full view, having a snack.
Tessa Has a Snack

The other baby we were interested in was Savanna, the cheetah. She’s been hanging out in the running yard prior to Cheetah Encounters. Such a pretty girl!
Cheetah in Autum

She chased her dog pal, Max.
Savanna Chases Max

Mostly, she did what cheetahs do best: she ran a bit.
Savanna Takes Off

Savanna Runs

Perhaps as inspiration, Nia, the second youngest cheetah in the Cat Ambassador program ran. She really embodies the grace and power of these animals.
Nia's Dash

Note the serious cheetah running form: head low and she’s starting to pin her ears back. Even captive cheetahs treat running after prey as serious business–even if the prey is just a fuzzy dog toy.

Chance did the second run.
Chance Flies

This is the first year I’ve gotten to see Sihil, the occelot, in the Cheetah Encounter. Her climbing ability is amazing! Also, they have such lovely coats (though, at times, I think she’s wearing pajamas).
Sihil Climbs

Cleo the serval shows how to get the last chip out of a Pringle can…somehow, I don’t think I can do it as well as she can.
Reaching for a Treat
OK, Pringles aren’t enough justification for this adaptation. It’s actually how servals can reach into burrows for rodents.

Another pretty cat.
Cleo & the Pumpkin
Note the malor strips on the pumpkin (you can see these as the black stripes running from a cheetah’s eyes (near the notes) to the corner of the mouth. These function similar to the black pain football players put under their eyes to reduce glare. You can see them on Savanna below.
Dreaming of Running

Minnow the fishing cat made an appearance.
Pondering a Dive

And I still wonder why I can’t get Luna to do this:
Through the Hoop!

We went to go say “hi” to the snow leopards. On the way, George, a six-month-old bat eared fox was taking a walk.
Happy George!

We also passed a ball’o’cougar.
Ball of Cougar

Renji and Nubo were being quite playful. They also appeared to have secrets.
Snow Leopard Secrets

Renji is so pretty. Another photographer pointed out she has “Cleopatra” eye liner–I never noticed it before.
Pretty Renji

The Big World at the Cincinnati Zoo   5 comments

We heard that Savanna, the cheetah cub, was making appearances before the cheetah run. Last weekend we thought we’d go see her, however, we got a late start, and barely made it to the show. Unfortunately, she only came out right before the show, and missed her! Still, we did get to see Sihil the ocelot. She demonstrated the ocelot’s ability to climb head first. They have bowed legs and very flexible ankles to facilitate this.
Grabbing the "Tree"

Minnow came out. Here, she is waiting for her trainer to throw the fish into the pond, for her to jump after.
Waiting for the Fish

I think this is the first time I saw Quilliam, the porcupine, this year.

Tommy T ran…then braked!
Tommy Brakes!

The Running Yard is near the giraffes. They watched us walk by.
Catching the Attention of Giraffes

We wanted to see the Night Hunters and Cat Canyon. On the way, a keeper had Gizmo out. He is a African White-Faced Owl. At eight months old, he’s fully grown, and just now getting to see the public. This was the first time he was in this particular location, behind the Reptile House. He was taking it all in.

It’s a big world out here. Isn’t it, Gizmo?
Gizmo Explores the Great, Big World!

The tigers were dozing at Cat Canyon.
Sleepy Tiger

Snow Leopards Renji and Nubo were in a cuddle puddle when we got to their enclosure.
Snow Leopard Cuddle Puddle

However, Nubo heard a squirrel. He got up and walked over to check it out.
Nubo Stares at a Squirrel

Renji was not amused.
Renji Is Not Amused

Nubo eventually tired of the squirrel, bringing out a big yawn.
Snow Leopard Yawn

It seemed to be contagious.
Cougar Yawn!

In Night Hunters, the ocelot was staring at…something.
Ocelot Watching His Stream

At the clouded leopards, there was a real treat…
Stretched Out on a Log

It was their sunrise–they turned on the lights. One of the cloudies was climbing around.

The other was watching him…suspiciously. Their eyes are so intense!

The fishing cat seems so sullen these days. I hope they find her a new friend.
Mamma Fishing Cat

The bobcat is handsome…and he knows it.
Handsome Bobcat

The fennec fox cubs got bigger since the last time we were there.
Fennec Fox Cub

Still, they are bouncing all over, and pestering each other like good siblings should.
Bugged by Sis

Louisville Zoo   1 comment

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.
Baby Ducks
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.

One area had both vampire bats…
Vampire Bats

…and fruit bats.
Fruit Bat

I liked this spotted turtle.

And this guy tried to sell me some insurance.
Insurance Salesman

Our first cat was a jaguar.
Jaguar Stare

She was busy doing her nails…
Jaguar Pedicure

Jaguars are the largest cat in the Western Hemisphere–only lions and tigers are bigger among felids. This one was a bit…ahem…fluffy.
Pretty Jaguar

I suppose it’s not nice to say such things about a lady.
Silly Kitty!

Next door was an ocelot. She was the only small cat out (the snow leopard and cougar were staying in cooler spots).
Dozing Ocelot

They had two juvenile bears (about a year or two old).
Bear Cub Fight!

They were playing around in their pool.
Bear Cub Fight 2!

Amur Tiger PropogandaOf 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 was quite handsome.
Big Siberian Tiger

Also, he was quite clever, moving under a sprinkler (note the upper left corner of the picture). It was a hot afternoon in Louisville.
Cooling Off

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.

Pretty cat!
Lazy Tiger Afternoon

The African section was actually rather good. They had a pigmy hippopotamus.
Caitlin & the Pigmy Hippo

Did I mention it was a hot day?
Camel Down!

More Masai giraffe!
Sitting Masai Giraffe

They had a vulture hanging out with them.

The lions were in the shade.
Lions in the Heat

Big yawn!
Lioness Yawn

Fang close-up!
Lioness Teeth

They had two species of elephants–one African, one Asian. The African elephant was on the left (with the larger ears).
Two Continents of Elephants

Overall, it was a decent zoo with several very interesting exhibits.

Animals at the Nashville Zoo   4 comments

Part of our summer vacation took us to Nashville, to see the Nashville Zoo, and a special animal. Of course, we looked at all that they had. They had an ostrich, which did two things I’d never seen one do before. First, it kneeled.
Kneeling Osterich

While kneeling, it made a very interesting vocalization–I didn’t get video, but you can see how its throat expands.
Osterich, About to Vocalize

The ostrich was hanging out with zebras, as you can see. All at once, the zebras made a move to the center of the exhibit…no idea why.
Zebra Meeting

The alligators were relatively small.
Floating 'Gators

One had a friend on his back…kind near his hind legs. Can you see it?
Lazy Gator

How about now?
Butterfly on the Gator

The meerkats were working out some issues, apparently.
Aggressive Behavior May Be Observed

The snowy owl was demonstrating why his species is an internet meme.
Chattin' Owl

An albino mom and not-so-albino dad produced two different baby wallabies.
Normal and Albino Wallabes
I don’t think those are both babies, but you get the idea.

Here’s a mouthful of a species: short-tailed leaf nose bat. I’m rather fond of bats, though I know many who are a bit creeped out by them.
Short-tailed Leaf Nose Bat

The golden frog is the national symbol of Panama.
Golden Frog

One challenge I had in the reptile house is that I misplaced my zoo notebook. Usually, as I go through, I write down what I’m taking pictures of (if I’m not sure myself). I accidentally left it in Cincinnati. I assumed I could get it from the zoo’s web site. This proved to be incorrect. I did like this little guy.
clingy Lizard

He could cling to glass.
Clinging to the Glass

Extreme close-up! Check out under his feet.
Close-Up of Clinging to Glass

I’m pretty sure this poison dart frog is thinking, “He’s right behind me, isn’t he?”
He's Right Behind Me, Isn't He?

They seemed to have both Masai and Rothschild giraffes, including a six-week-old baby.
Baby & Big Giraffe

Baby Giraffe

Baby Giraffe Crouching Down

Amazing how the baby is at once tall (compared to me) and small (compared to adults of his species). On the right is an older juvenile, who is two years old.
Three Giraffes

Pretty animals!
Big Giraffe

Were there cats? Of course there were! How about a bengal tiger, dozing on a hot summer day?
Peeking Bengal Tiger

The Eurasian lynxes were having a staring contest.

Until one just gave up.
Sleepy Lynx

Their oldest cat was a cougar, who was in her late teens.
Nashville Cougar

There was one last kind of cat there, who I took literally hundreds of pictures of. This is the “special animal” I mentioned earlier. They will be a subject a separate post, but here’s a peek…

At The Wilds   6 comments

Zebra on the Hill
The Wilds is a fourteen square mile zoological park in Central Ohio. For about fourty years, this land was strip mined for its coal. Once complete, the American Electric Company donated the land so that a conservation site could be established.

It is a very large place. A variety of tours are offered–we took an open-air bus, similar to the one pictured above. The tour takes about two-and-a-half hours, with two stops.

Wide View of the Prarie

One of the first new-to-me animals was the Persian Onager. They are donkey-like creatures native to Iran and Iraq. This one seems to think I owe him money or something.
Persian Onager, Looking Annoyed

They foal in August. This one was born either the night before or the day we were there.
Persian Onager Family

This one the day before we visited.
Persian Onager and Foal

And this one was a bit early–a few weeks old.
Persian Onager Foal

A similar animal was Przewalski’s Wild Horse, native to Asia. These have the most impressive manes.
The Mane Thing

They, too, had babies.
Baby Przewalski’s Wild Horse

Foaling Around

Three different subspecies of giraffe were represented. There was the Reticulated Giraffe.
Reticulated Giraffe

The Rothschild Giraffe.
Rothschild Giraffe

And my personal favorite, the Masi Giraffe
Masi Giraffe

Though I’ve seen plenty of emu, I don’t think I’ve seen ostriches that often in person.
Who Are You Calling Birdbrain?

Who are you calling birdbrain?

I feel the need to pull out a bar code scanner…
Lone Zebra

The Wilds is dedicated to conservation. Our guide told us of efforts to save ospreys and butterflies, all very successful. Currently, there is a study with bees.
Bee Experiment
You can sort of see a bee near the second hold from the right, bottom row (green and white box).

There were many species of antelope, including the fringe-eared oryx.
Fringe-Eared Oryx

The banteng is a wild cow, native to China. The Wilds has one of the few pure herds in the world–they have been mostly cross-bred with more domesticated subspecies.

Rhinos use a common latrine, which is also a marking technique. We drove by one.
Rhino Poo

Which led to their herd of Southern white rhinos.
Southern White Rhino

They had a baby rhino, which was cute…for a rhino.
Baby Rhino!

One of the stops was the Mid-Sized Carnivore Conservation Center, which was more appropriately the Mid-Sized Carnivore Lounge Center, as these African wild dogs demonstrate.
Painted Dog Day Afternoon

The Dhole is a dog-like Asian animal that I had never heard of before. It preys on bantengs, and has a very bush tail.
Bushy Dhole Tail

Happy Dhole

Of course there were cats! Specifically cheetahs. In one enclosure was a mom and two eight-month-old cubs.
Dozing Cheetah Family

Mom enjoyed rolling on her back.
Silly Cheetah Family

The cubs demonstrated camouflage. See them?
Cheetah Cub Camouflage

How ’bout now?
Lazy Cheetah Afternoon

In the next enclosure was Steve, a handsome, two-year-old cheetah.
‘Sup, ladies?

All-in-all, we had a great time. It is an amazing facility which is committed to conservation, both through action and education.
The Barilleauxs at The Wilds

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