Archive for the ‘jaguars’ Category

A Second Visit to the Chattanooga Zoo   Leave a comment

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.
Czar on Alert!

My daughter is a huge fan of red pandas.
Red Panda Banner

They were spending the afternoon in one of the interior enclosures. They have access to one outside; they just wanted to be in.
Bamboo Snack

They coyotes opted to be outside.
Coyotes

There was also a beautiful pair of cougars out. We loved watching them.
Mountain Lions on the Rock

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.
Bobcat Watches...

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.
Alert Road Runner

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.
Hyrax

There were fennec foxes there.
Fennec Pair

Some just wanted to relax.
Snoozing Fennec Fox

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.
Fennec Pettins

It was close to closing time–you could forgive the sand cat for being tired…
YAWN!

…having a quick bath…
Quick Wash of the Paw

…and calling it a day.
Sand Cat Nap

We were able to get a good view of the jaguars.
Stalking Jaguar 2

OH HAI!
Jaguar Grin

We stopped for only a couple hours, but we really enjoyed our time at the Chattanooga Zoo.

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.
Siblings

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.
Unaware

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.
DSC_6085

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.
Flamingos!

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.
lionfish

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.
Eagle-Go-Round

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

Saint Louis Zoo   2 comments

I was surprised to realize that, in 2014, I haven’t been to a zoo. I’ve been to the Newport Aquarium, but the last time I saw non-fish was when we went to the Birmingham Zoo just before New Year’s Day. The Polar Vortex played a large role in that. With Spring and Zoo Blooms upon us, I’m sure we’ll be rectifying that, but it really had been far too long. When we had an opportunity to visit the Saint Louis Zoo, we were excited.
St. Louis Zoo Statue

The Saint Louis Zoo is among the oldest zoos in the country, and has many of the original buildings (at once an interesting and depressing point). It’s also notable that, for what many regard as a top zoo, admission is free. If you look hard enough and/or don’t mind walking, the whole day can be of no charge to you.

The first animal we encountered was a Malayan sun bear. I confess I thought this small bear was a cub until someone clued me in.
Malayan Sun Bear

Next door, a grizzly bear appeared to be sleeping one off.
Passed Out Grizzly

We set out towards the big cats, making a stop to say “hi” to one of our new favorites, the red panda.
Amblin' Red Panda

He climbed up to some of his favorite treat, bamboo.
Climbing to Bamboo

A nearby prairie dog seems to have picked up the bamboo habit from his neighbor.
Prarie Dog with Bamboo

Some of the enclosures are historic. This isn’t uncommon in many zoos, though they do try to house species which are a better match to the space by modern criteria. There was one indoor area for some animals, such as the giraffe, where the age showed, and was retro in the sense that it wasn’t generally done. In there, I didn’t want to take pictures. I’m sure the animal welfare is considered–the Saint Louis Zoo is AZA accredited (the gold standard, in my opinion), and participates in Species survival Plans–but it seemed some upgrades were needed.

Another place this seemed to come out was in the big cat area. The animals did have plenty of space, but it did not seem to have the modern attempt at habitat like, say, Cat Canyon. The Amur tiger, largest of the felids, had plenty of space, but the area had an artificial bent.
Amur Tiger

He was able to confer with a next-door jaguar, again, in a seeming unnatural fashion. Neither cat seemed to be bothered by the presence of the other. Personally, I worry when two cats have too many conferences.
Cat Conference

As you can see, the jaguar is melanistic–a panther! I couldn’t see spots from the distance, but I always love how light plays on a black cat’s coat.
Stalking Jaguar

I have a soft spot in my heart for black cats.
Black Cat

The lioness seemed to be having a chat by a gate.
Girl Talk

The snow leopard took an afternoon nap.
Snow Leopard Nap

The Amur leopard was also taking a nap.
Leopard Nap

Amur leopards are among the rarest cats in the world. There are 176 are in captivity, and less than thirty believed to be in the wild.
Sleepy Eyes

There were only three small cats on display, mostly due to their position on the purr/roar line. The snow leopard, cheetahs (who weren’t out on this dreary day), and cougars. They were also hanging out in a cave.
Cougars in a Cave

However, for some reason, they had a Bobcat in the black rhino’s enclosure.
Bobcat in the Rhino Enclosure

The zebra grazed a bit.
Zebra

One of the non-cats I always love is the okapi.
Okapi

The oakpi are related to giraffe, which seems obvious from their tongues.
Okapi Tongue

Two cow-like critters were represented. The bantang…
Bantang

…and the takin. Not sure if he’s been promoted to Grand Moff.
Grand Moff Takin

A small herd of red kangaroos was munching on grass.
Red Kangaroos

The sea lions were having an argument.
Sea Lion Argument

The Asian elephants kept their distance.
Asian Elephants

Hyenas always strike me as awkward looking.
Hyena

My daughter is a huge otter fan.
Caitlin at the Otter Statue

A river otter surveyed his domain.
Master of His domain

In the bird exhibit, a rhinoceros hornbill ate lunch.

I had never seen a bateleur eagle before, but was taken by his colors.
Bateleur Eagle

The crested wood partridge also had some great color.
Crested Wood Partridge

The Bali mynah is a rare bird, with only sixty left in the wild.
Bali Mynah

The tawny frogmouths were hanging out.
Tawny Frogmouths

A burrowing owl took a break from lunch to say “hi.”
Burrowing Owl

Outside, there was a bald eagle.
Bald Eagle

His wings were impressive.
Big Wings!

Overall, we had a great time at the Saint Louis Zoo.
Family at Saint Louis Zoo - 5x7

All Over the Toronto Zoo   1 comment

A six hour drive westward brought us from Montreal to Toronto, where Canada’s largest zoo is located. The Toronto Zoo has a large collection of animals, as well as visitors in the parking lot.
Birds on Cars

In terms of area, this is the largest zoo I’ve seen with the exceptions of the Wilds and the San Diego Zoo Wild Animal Park. Most of the large animals had enormous enclosures. For example, the bison practically had a prairie.
Bison in the Field

The Bison were in the Canadian Domain section. Half of the small cats we saw were there. Two Canadian Lynxes were hanging out in the drizzle. One was trying to hide from the rain.
Lynx Hiding from the Rain

The other didn’t let it deter him.
Lynx in the Rain

They also had a pair of cougars. When we were standing there, we learned that a government agency released a couple of cougars to take care of an overpopulation of fishers, a fierce member of the weasel problem.
Relaxed Cougar

We saw plenty of “moose crossing” signs as we drove through Quebec, but never saw a moose (or a deer, for that matter). We watched this gentle giant enjoy his lunch.
Moose (No Squirrel)

The big thrill in Canadian Domain was the grizzly. One appeared to be juvenile.
Romping Young Grizzly

The boisterous youngster seemed to be intent on playing with an older bear. Personally, I wouldn’t mess with her.
Mama Bear

Adjacent to the Canadian Domain was the Tundra Trek, showing the animals of the Arctic.
Peeping Wolf

Our favorite was the Arctic wolves.
Arctic Wolf

The Arctic fox was displaying his summer coat.
Arctic Fox, Summer Coat

Sleep-Walking

I liked the snowy owl.
Snowy Owl

The polar bear was having a lazy afternoon.
In a Cave

One thing I found interesting was an inuksuk, a marking stone used by the Inuit.
Inuksuk

The America’s section was home to the otters.
Underwater Otter

We always love the antics of river otters.
Otter on the Float

Waving Otter
Hi there!

The spectacled owls watched us as we entered.
Spectacled Owls

One enclosure had parrots and capybaras. A capybara got a bit too curious about the parrots’ goings on.
Nosy Capybara

He was escorted off their perch.
Pushy Parrot

The Toronto Zoo has two jaguars. One is tawny, taking a bath.
Bathing Jaguar

The other was melanistic. It looked a little like Luna.
Black Cat

The cheetah keeper was giving a talk at 1:30. We got there at 1:27, and saw no cats. Right as my watched hit half-past, we saw a head.
Peeking Cheetah

Zeek the cheetah knew when he’d get a snack.
Zeek Looks for His Snack

Happy Cheetah

Such a handsome cat.
DSC_9800

Phhhht!
Phhhhhbt!

Next door was a white lion pride. A male.
Lion Meatloafing

…and two females.
Lionesses

We watched them for a bit. I think we bored him.
Dreamy Lion

Obviously, this was in the Africa section, also home to Southern white rhinos.
Rhino Butt!

The antelope played in the drizzle.
Antelope

And African elephants. African elephants have larger ears than their Asian counterparts.
African Elephant

I’ve seen plenty of pictures of sugar gliders, but I don’t think I’ve seen one in person before.
Sugar Glider

This was in the indoor Australia exhibit. I liked the reptiles, such as a one year old emerald tree boa.
Juvenile Emerald Tree Boa

The bearded dragon just watched.
Bearded Dragon

A sign indicated that their clouded leopard was an older cat, and the zoo keepers were trying to keep her comfortable. She simply dozed as an older feline should.
Tired Cloudie

The gaur is a fairly rare species–from what I can tell, the Toronto Zoo is the only one in North america who has them. Also known as the Indian Bison, it is the tallest species of wild cattle.
Gaar

The spider tortoise is one of the smallest of the tortoise species.
Spider Tortoise

Only one of the two subspecies of tiger, the Sumatran tiger, was visible when we went.
Relaxed Tiger

A reindeer was sprinting around his enclosure. It was fun to watch him run.
Reindeer Sprint!

The Toronto Zoo is getting two giant pandas on a five-year loan.
Panda, from Above

There was a large “Interpretive Center” on the way in, speaking about these creatures. It left me perplexed: they eat only one species of bamboo, but only get nutrients from about half of what they consume. They eat all of their waking life. Have they become overspecialized?
Panda with Bamboo

The Eurasian exhibit was, for the most part, closed. A tram went through part of it. We were told we could see the snow leopard, and given a series of wrong directions, leading us to circumnavigate much of the zoo, only to finally find out that, while the snow leopards were still at the zoo, they could not be seen while we were there. This exhibit is being remodeled, set to open in 2014. This was a major disappointment to me.

However, it was still a very impressive zoo. We were there pretty much from opening to close, and I’m not entirely sure how we would have fit in another section during our time there. The exhibits were well done, and there was a lot of space for the animals living there.

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.
DSC_7030

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.
Vulture

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.

San Antonio Zoo and Aquarium: Cats (Part 3)   10 comments

As I noted I’m splitting our trip to the San Antonio Zoo and Aquarium into three parts. The first part was look at most animals, and the second part was dedicated to their amazing collection of birds. This final post is my favorite: cats!

They only had five small cats. The clouded leopard and ocelot were unfortunately not out while we were there. However, the fishing cat looked right at us.
Fishing Cat Observing Me
You know this is a favorite of mine.
DSC_2958

They have three black-footed cats: mom, dad, and daughter. Mom and daughter were out, though hiding. This was the best shot I was able to get of mom.
Mama BFC

Their cheetah coalition was having some fun in the sun.
Cheetah Snuggles
I know I’ve seen Beso and Eddy play like this.
Cheetah Belly!

Invitation to Play

The lion was trying to beat the heat.
Hot Lion

The jaguar was having a lazy day.
Dozing Jaguar
But did pop up for a few pictures.
Pondering Jaguar
I love the pensive look it had.
Pensive Jaguar

By far, our favorite cat at the San Antonio Zoo was the Sumatran tiger, who I think was female.
Sumantran Tiger Tongue
She was very active while we were there.
Running Tiger
She rolled around and let us see her striped belly.
Tiger Belly!
Such a pretty cat!
Happy Tiger!
As enrichment, her keepers gave her a phone book.
Letting Her Paws Do the Walking
Which she tore apart.
Tiger Enrichment
Seriously, in the age of SmartPhones, who needs the yellow pages?
Who Uses Phone Books When You Have a SmartPhone?


This is the third of three parts of the San Antonio Zoo posts. The first part is general, speaking to animals other than cats. The second part dealt with their bird collection.

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