Archive for the ‘cats’ Category
I know it’s been a while since I’ve done a Cincinnati Zoo post. Time to rectify that. I believe I posted about John and Imani, the zoo’s power couple.
They had kids! Three female cubs, named “Huruma,” “Kya,” and “Willa.”
I’m afraid that, in spite of good guidance, I can’t tell them apart. One was sitting close to her parents.
The other two stayed by the fence.
…until one of them decided it was playtime!
Nearby, were Imara and Brahma, the African painted dogs.
They had ten pups, all with “Batman”-themed names.
The “Batman” theme started with one, Joker, who seems to have a question mark on his back.
They had paper Easter eggs in their enclosure as enrichment.
It was fun to watch them scamper about.
Just watching them wore the bat-eared fox out.
As we left the Africa area, we watched a cheetah take a bath.
We stopped by the nursery to see Zeke, a serval cub. He was about eleven weeks old when we saw him.
It was late in the day, so mostly, he wanted to groom himself…
…and take a nap.
We had to stop and say “hi” to Nubo and Renji, the snow leopards.
Our visit began as a lazy afternoon.
But Nubo saw something.
He stalked towards it. I was confused, and fixated on the cats.
Renji joined him. Some idiot kids jumped a barrier, and went to a side of the enclosure not accessable to the public. Not cool!
It did stir them up a bit.
Nubo jumped up on an off-camber…he handles them so much better than I do.
He’s such a handsome cat!
On the way out, we saw a peacock, who wanted to show off.
It was fun to see all the cats, dogs, and babies!
With Radio Shack filing for bankruptcy, lots of geeky toys may go with it. Yes, the TRS-80 may be long gone, but so have most computers of that era. The thing I remember playing with was their electronics kits. These were simple introductions into circuits. Using spring terminals, you could build an AM radio, or morse code key, or 150 other projects (or more, depending on the exact set you got). About half mine actually worked, but it was a good way to spend an afternoon.
The spirit of this lives on, however, in Snap Circuits, which my daughter is even more fascinated with than I was the Radio Shack kits. Rather than a box of loose parts and springs you have to connect, each component is encased in plastic, with connections made with snaps. While it means you don’t actually get to hold a resister, you’re less likely to lose the part, and the projects seem to have a higher success rate–it’s not as finicky as the spring terminals. Many of the old projects of the Radio Shack kit are present, and some versions even have a computer interface. It’s a great toy to encourage an interest in STEM fields, not that I have much trouble encouraging that with my daughter.
My wife related a story where she was not the only one exploring electrical engineering.
Beso is a watcher. He likes to sit off to the side and observe what my daughter does. I often wonder if he has a notebook in which he jots his observations about life, in a manner like Thoreau. A week or so ago, my daughter was playing with her Snap Circuits. As pictured, Beso sat in the box lid, intently watching what she was up to. She made a circuit which had a switch, and an electric motor that turned a fan. She flipped the switch a few times, and had the fan spin, then stop. She then got up for a minute, leaving her project.
Beso took the opportunity to walk over and examine the breadboard. He sniffed around the motor, then put his paw on the switch and pushed. He wasn’t quite catching it, but it was clear he was paying enough attention to determine that’s what made the fan go. He tried from one side, then the other, only giving up when my daughter returned.
I’m not sure you’ll have the same result with Snap Circuits with your cats. However, I can certainly endorse it as a great education toy for the girls they love.
Our last stop on our way home was at the Knoxville Zoo. One really nice perk of a zoo membership is reciprocal agreements with other zoos. Most either offer free admission or give a signficant discount to members of other zoos. In Knoxville, all we had to pay for was parking. Our museum membership has a similar network–definitely a great way to support local institutions and at the same time save money on vacation.
It was, however, a somewhat grey day, with showers on and off. There were very few other attendees, as the animals were also taking it easy. The river otter, however, was having a good time doing back flips.
They have a striking profile.
My daughter has been taking up the photo habit as well.
There were a pair of non-releasable bald eagles hanging out.
The red wolf is a very endangered species. The core wild population is actually in my old neck of the woods: southwest Louisiana and southeast Texas.
I think we woke the lion.
We went to go see the Malayan tigers, where a keeper was just wrapping up a talk.
We spoke with the keeper. Tam, and his brother, were cubs five years ago in the Cincinnati Zoo. They were some of my first cat photos! I showed them a few baby pics, with a lot of “awwws.” They looked at my favorite shot of them, below, and they thought it might be Tam.
The drizzle picked up, and Tam got bored of us.
The centerpiece of the Knoxville Zoo is their Red Panda Village.
In fact, more red pandas have been born in Knoxville, 101, than any other zoo in the Western Hemisphere. Only a Dutch zoo has had more.
Red pandas are the only remaining true panda species. The giant panda–the black and white kind–are actually bears.
Red pandas were actually discovered (and named) first.
They also happen to be my daughter’s favorite animal.
We had a lot of fun wrestle and chase each other.
We could have spent a long time watching the firefoxes, as red pandas are also known, play. However, we had to make our way back to Cincinnati.
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.
We saw two, each in their own tree. We looks a bit closer, and realized our count was off.
One of the koalas had a joey, a little baby, sleeping snuggly with its mom.
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.
Dragons were hanging out.
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.
Perhaps because they were playing “dogpile 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.”
They had a pretty good cat collection, divided between large and small cats. In fact, they had the largest cat, the Amur tiger.
They had two lions, this handsome male…
…and this shy female (actually, she was just washing her face).
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.
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).
I like to take pictures of cats yawning.
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.
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.
It was a fun stop, and we enjoyed seeing some of our favorite animals.
Tampa is home to Big Cat Rescue, a rescue for, well, big cats. Big Cat Rescue is home to cats that have retired from circuses or part of the exotic pet trade. We took the opportunity to join one of the tours of their facility.
Big Cat Rescue got its start when rescuing bobcats from a fur farm. It takes forty bobcats to make a fur coat, and they are usually kept and killed in a brutal fashion. There really is no humane fur.
Their cougars (or, as they are known in Florida, panthers) were having a mellow afternoon.
Bengali was a circus tiger, moved from city to city. He seems quite relaxed here.
He keeps it clean.
Big Cat Rescue’s odd couple are also retired circus cats: Zabu, a female white tiger, and Cameron, a male lion.
Cameron had to be neutered to ensure he and Zabu wouldn’t create a hybrid (a liger). Because of the reduced testosterone, he no longer can grow a mane.
Hybrids are a serious issue: usually, they are caught between competing sets of instincts, and have health issues. Jojo, a caracal/serval hybrid, has serious digestive system issues. While I would not want to create hybrids, I do think he’s a very striking cat.
Sabre is a melanistic leopard. He was a pet, but abandoned by his owner. Fortunately he made his way to big cat rescue.
Why do I find myself drawn to silly black cats?
He does have striking eyes.
Frosty is one of their many servals.
Many of these cats were pets, who, well, aren’t domesticated animal. they have no reason to be in someone’s house.
When such animals are surrendered by their owners, they sign a contract to never own another exotic cat.
My personal favorite was their caracal pair, Sassy…
Big Cat Rescue is a great organization, committed to the welfare of their cats. They advocate against the many ways wild cats, when put in inappropriate settings, are a problem. We need more folks looking out for animals in these circumstances. The humans are at fault, as they expect the cat to act in a tame fashion, millenia of instincts to the contrary. Unfortunately, too often, it’s the animal that is punished.
Winter Break came after merely a month of winter-ish weather, but we were ready for a break. Driving south sounded like a good idea, so that’s what we did. As is our tradition, we mixed driving with lots of fun stops, putting reciprocal agreements with many great Cincinnati facilities to good use. The first stop was a second visit to the Chattanooga Zoo.
I like the Chattanooga Zoo because, even though it is small, it is comfortable in its skin. It tries to make great presentations of its collection, while ensuring the animals are well cared for. It’s also the birthplace of Renji, the female snow leopard at the Cincinnati Zoo. Czar, her dad, was out on the day we were there.
My daughter is a huge fan of red pandas.
They were spending the afternoon in one of the interior enclosures. They have access to one outside; they just wanted to be in.
They coyotes opted to be outside.
There was also a beautiful pair of cougars out. We loved watching them.
One thing I like is that some of the older enclosures remain to show how zoos used to be. A cage for a big cat, really too small for such an animal, is more appropriate for a bobcat.
We must have missed the desert exhibit the first time we visited. We missed several animals, including a road runner, a favorite of my wife’s.
It shared an enclosure with a rock hyrax. Something I learned on Winter break: rock hyraxes are closely related to manatees and elephants. You’d never guess looking at these three critters.
There were fennec foxes there.
Some just wanted to relax.
One was being extremely talkative. I’d never heard a fennec fox vocalize before. There was a keeper, who explained she wanted a bit of attention, and was never shy about making that known.
It was close to closing time–you could forgive the sand cat for being tired…
…having a quick bath…
…and calling it a day.
We were able to get a good view of the jaguars.
We stopped for only a couple hours, but we really enjoyed our time at the Chattanooga Zoo.
If you have the I Can Has Cheezburger page-a-day calendar may recognize a familiar face. A picture of Eddy made it in! He's quite proud.
I got my Snow Leopard Trust newsletter last week. There were several photos taken by camera traps of wild snow leopards. I stood in my kitchen staring at these photos. Here are these cats standing on a mountain. There are no bars to protect them, and no keepers to bring them their meal. They hunt on these rocky slopes, fearing nothing. Only one thought went through my head: our world is so very blessed to have these amazing creatures.
I had a similar experience watching a documentary about snow leopards. Researchers saw that a mother snow leopard went to hunt, leaving her two cubs in their den. Wait! I thought. They are so rare and tiny! What if something happens to them? But that’s life in the wild.
Today is International Snow Leopard Day, a day to call attention to the Ghost of the Mountain. We are left with between 4,000 and 6,500 wild snow leopards. This number is shrinking due to habitat loss and conflict with man. There are simple ways to protect these cats. For instance, the Snow Leopard Trust works with the people who share the snow leopard’s habitat. Where the people might do a “revenge killing” after one of their goats is taken by a snow leopard, now they are more likely to shoot pictures with a cell phone. Studies of snow leopard behavior also help reduce this conflict, giving a better idea to the impact they are having.
Snow leopards are my second favorite species of cat, and I hope they are around for future generations to be amazed by.
My wife and daughter do storytime. Since Luna moved in nearly three years ago, she has joined them. Presently, they’re working their way through Harry Potter. She lays there, listens, and occasionally purrs.
She skips some days. Other days, she’ll realize she missed it, and run in and chirp. Once in a while, another chapter is read, just for Luna.
My wife related to me today that Luna enlisted Beso in trying to get out the current book. He’s bigger, and better able to help. I wonder what she would do once they got it out–I’m not sure she can read herself.
Labor Day weekend brings the Cincinnati Zoo cheetah run. My wife did the 5K for the second year, this time with my daughter doing a good chunk of it with her.
I’m quite impressed with their running. I only run if something is chasing me (or I’m late for the bus).
After the run, we decided to walk around the zoo. Remember Gladys, the orphaned baby gorilla? She’s getting bigger.
But she’s no longer the baby! Asha was born this year. I’m sure when she gets bigger, she’ll be a great playmate for Gladys.
We stopped to say “hi” to Renji and Nubo. Renji was wondering what was with all the smelly(-er-than-usual) people.
Nubo just set about making sure his paws were clean.
Inside, I got some good pictures of the black-footed cats. They were quite active that morning.
The sand cat took a great leap!
The caracal’s enclosure was quite fogged over that morning, creating a cloudy view. However, she just looked so cute, I had to take get the best shot I could of her.
Dobby the pygmy owl saw us out.
We had a great morning! The Cheetah Run is a wonderful fundraiser for one of the best zoos in the country!