Archive for the ‘leopard’ Category

Big Cat Rescue   Leave a comment

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.
Bobcat Yawn

Their cougars (or, as they are known in Florida, panthers) were having a mellow afternoon.
Lazy Cougar

Bengali was a circus tiger, moved from city to city. He seems quite relaxed here.
Bengali the Tiger

He keeps it clean.
Clean Toes are a Tiger's Friend

Big Cat Rescue’s odd couple are also retired circus cats: Zabu, a female white tiger, and Cameron, a male lion.
Cameron and Zabu

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.
Lion Strut

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.
Serval/Caracal Hybrid

Sabre is a melanistic leopard. He was a pet, but abandoned by his owner. Fortunately he made his way to big cat rescue.
Panther Up High

Why do I find myself drawn to silly black cats?
Enrichment Ring

He does have striking eyes.
Pretty Black Cat

Frosty is one of their many servals.
Frosty Paws

Many of these cats were pets, who, well, aren’t domesticated animal. they have no reason to be in someone’s house.
Lounging Serval

When such animals are surrendered by their owners, they sign a contract to never own another exotic cat.
Serval in the Ferns

My personal favorite was their caracal pair, Sassy…
Sassy

..and Rusty.
Rusty

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.
Bobcat Silhouette

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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

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

Black Leopard, Black Cat   Leave a comment

Duality from Rich K on Vimeo.

Cool video comparison of a leopard and a house cat. Enjoy!

Posted 2013-04-05 by Mr. Guilt in animals, cats, felis silvestris catus, leopard

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