Archive for the ‘pallas cats’ Category

Cat Tour at the Birmingham Zoo   5 comments

Our journey south continued through Birmingham. When we woke up in Huntsville, I googled the Birmingham Zoo, mostly out of curiosity. It turns out they have perhaps the best small cat collection I’ve seen outside of Cincinnati. It was also close to a restaurant where we thought would make a good lunch stop. Cheap admission through a reciprocal arrangement with the Cincinnati Zoo sealed the deal.


When we arrived, it was a dreary day–cooler temperatures with a drizzle. Cold for Birmingham, but my family are zoo geeks, tough, and slightly crazy. We decided to check it out anyway.

We were the only guests at the zoo–the only other people we saw were staff. The bald eagles looked at us as if to say “primates be crazy.”
"Why are you here in this weather?"

We entered the predator house, and started a conversation with the staff, asking about the cats, their names, and where they came from. They seemed to dig that we knew so much, and, as it was near closing and there was no one else around, they walked us through and answered questions.

The first cat we saw was an ocelot named Toby.
Ocelot on the Ledge

Next was a pallas cat (I was told all the names, but for many, I can’t quite read what I wrote).
Fluffy Time

They had two fishing cat brothers.
Gone Fishing

I started fishing around to see if they were descendents of Cincinnati fishing cats. They weren’t, but they were Ohio fishing cats–they were born in the Columbus Zoo. They were the third, fourth and fifth cutest kittens in Ohio born in 2011.
Fishing Cat Crib

They’ve grown to be handsome cats.
Fishing Cat March

Katie is their African wildcat. Wildcats were neat to see for a couple reasons. The African wildcat (felis silvestris libyca) is a subspecies of wildcat (felis silvestris). Another subspecies is felis silvestris catus, better known to me as “Eddy, Luna, and Beso.” Like all members of her species, she viewed humans skeptically, especially ones out on a rainy, drerey day.
Stink Eye


What was cool about Katie in particular (aside from her wild good looks) was that she is a clone, produced at the Audobon zoo, to find ways to save endangered species. This is the first time I have (knowingly) seen a clone in person. Even though my morning was spent looking at rocket ships, it was the most SciFi thing I did that day. Katie mated with another clone, and produced a litter of wildcats, who I was told lived up to the wildcat name.
Hiding Wlidcat

There were two black-footed cats.
Black Footed Strut


Tut was the male.
Black Footed Profile

He watched Mica, the female, walking around.
Stalking Black-Footed Cat

He’s a handsome cat!
Black Footed Portrait

Sand cat Toby seemed eager to see us.
Bart the Sand Cat

The female, Angsa (but I may have that wrong), just wasn’t feeling sociable.
Won't Get Out of Bed

At 3:30, they do a demonstration of feeding the lions, and how they have been trained behaviors to help facilitate their care. The keepers who do that were walking through, “come on. Let’s go feed the lions.” Though it was rainy and we hadn’t intended to see the lion feeding, we followed our new friends–we were the only guests, and we couldn’t let Aquila and Kwanza down.
Aquila and Kwanza

Kwanza is a nine-year-old male lion, born on the first day of Kwanza that year.
Handsom Kwanza

Back inside, we saw the non-cats such as the mongooses (mongeese?).
Mongoose

We are big red panda fans. They had two adults and two cubs.
Nom!

Sniffin' Bamboo

We made one last stop, to see the giant otters.
Swimming Giant Otters


They were huge.
What's Up There?

We enjoyed our day at the Birmingham Zoo. In spite of the cold, rainy day, it was a great experience, and it was neat to have an unofficial private tour of their predators. Thank you so much!

World Rhino Day at the Cincinnati Zoo   1 comment

Last Sunday (September 23) was World Rhino Day. Rhinoceroses are critical endangered, in no small part due to poaching.
World Rhino Day Banner
The Cincinnati Zoo was in the headlines recently, as they are attempting to breed the only two Sumatran rhinos in North America. So of course, on World Rhino Day, they were hanging out in one of areas in the back. In their defense, we were there rather late in the day.

The Indian rhinoceros, however was not only out, but playing with some bamboo. Rhinos are among my favorite zoo animals (outside of felids, of course).
Indian Rhino, Playing with Bamboo

Coincidentally, Saturday (the twenty-first) was International Red Panda Day, another favorite zoo animal (outside of felids, of course).
Dozing Red Panda

The Bactrian camel really doesn’t care what day it is.
Bactrian camel

A takin is goat-antelope, native to Himalayas. They are regarded as a vulnerable species.
Takin

We went to check out Woodstock, a manatee.
Woodstock

He did rolls near Betsy, another manatee.
Woodstock Rolls

Prom season is in the spring, isn’t it?
Mob of Penguins

We went to go say “hi” to Renji and Nubo. When we walked up, it almost seemed like there was only one snow leopard out.
One Snow Leopard or Two?

But, it became apparent that they were both in there (Nubo is on the right).
Nubo is Annoyed

Heart-shaped snow leopards!
Renji and Nubo Snuggle

The pallas kittens are still hanging around–one up on some rocks; another was down low. He wanted to go up to see his pal.
Pallas Kitten, Pondering a Jump

So he jumped!
He Made It!

It was quite impressive!
Pallas Kitten Siblings

It is sometimes hard to imagine these little pallas kittens are smaller than adult black-footed cats.
DSC_1977

The sand cat was dozing–love how his paws were arranged.
Sand Cat Toes

We haven’t seen the caracal all summer–I’ve been worried. She wasn’t there this visit, but we did see scat in her enclosure. This made me feel a little comforted.

Ever since they remodeled the Cat House into Night Hunters, it’s been very difficult to get a good picture of the fishing cat. Usually, it takes pulling every light-gathering tick I have, manual focussing, and anticipating where she’s walking. Today, she was still, and I pulled out my 50mm f/1.8 for the first time in a while. And, got a really good shot.
Mamma Fishing Cat!

It was a great afternoon to spend learning and supporting one of the great animal treasures of this world.
Lift!

Meeting the Lion at the Cincinnati Zoo   3 comments

The Cincinnati Zoo opened up their new “Africa” section while we were on our trip. One of the older parking lots was converted to a large exhibit space, between the rest of the zoo and the Cathryn Hilker Running Yard. Some parts of Africa, such as the flamingos and giraffes, have been there for a while. Other parts, such as the hoofed animals, will be joining next year. This year, we got tawny lions. The first to come out was John.
John and the Donut

He was one of the “Magnificent Seven” born at the National Zoo in 2010. No word on if he knew Rusty.
John from the Front

He’s still exploring his enclosure, and making it his. Here is an example of some of the marking behavior he did to some trees.
Lion Scratches
Could someone get a kitty a scratching post?

This handsome young man will be joined with a female from another zoo, as part of a Species Survival Plan. As I keep telling Renji and Nubo, Cincinnati is a great place to raise kids.
Afternoon Snooze

Or just spend an afternoon dozing back-to-back.
Back to Back</a
The snow leopards are still in Cat Canyon…I just had a good segue.

While there have been cheetahs running continuously, since they closed the old cat canyon, none have been on exhibit until the new Africa section.
My Head!

Paws up, y’all!
Paws Up Y'all!

Speaking of kids, the nursery had a baby skunk!
L'il Skunk

Baby skunks are cute.
Baby Skunk Needs a Hand

Pygmy Falcon Babies are cute, hanging out next to the skunk. Are they plotting an escape?
Pygmy Falcon Babies

Are they consulting with the red panda? Probably not–looks like he’s getting his nap on.
Plotting Panda
…Or that’s what he wants us to think!

We stopped by Night Hunters to check on the little ones there. The pallas kittens were dozing in a “bowl,” showing how their coats camouflage them.
Pallas Kitten, Sleeping in the Rock

The ocelittle was being groomed by his mother.
My Ears are Clean Enough, Mom!

Mom! Not in front of the primates!
Perched Ocelittle

Sand cats aren’t worried about it.
Emergency Sand Cat Bath!

The black footed cat didn’t care, and was right up in front to let us know he didn’t care.
BFC Back

Another day with a bobcat but no caracal. I hope “Miss Lop-Ears” is OK.
Lazy Bobcat

We enjoyed checking out the Africa section, seeing old friends, and making new ones.
Lion Family and My Family

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

“Cheeze!”
CHEEZ!!!

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!
Tag!

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.

Ocelittle and Pallas’ Kittens   3 comments

Lounging Ocelittle
I’ve been trying to see the baby ocelot born at the Cincinnati Zoo on New Year’s Eve all year. On the last weekend of Zoo Babies, I got to see her, and her mom.
Ocelittle Wakes Up

Sometimes she wandered around looking for her mother.
"Mommy, Where Are You?"

Other times, as cats are want to do, they wrestled.
Wrestling with Mom

Going Under Mom

Such a pretty little girl.
In the Stump

The bonus was down the hall.
Pallas' Kitten Cuddle Puddle

Three sleepy pallas’ cat kittens.
Pallas' Kitten Cuddle Puddle 2

Who weren’t asleep for long!
Eh!

Adorable balls of fluff! Of course, pallas’ cats stay fluffy.
A Pallas' Kitten Ponders

Pallas' Kitten Bokeh

One even came close to the window.
Black and White Pallas Kitten
I love when sitting cats wrap their tails around them like that.

A sand cat was sleeping up on top of some rocks.
Sand Cat Nap, Disturbed

Miss Lop-Ears the caracal was up on the rocks, too.
Miss Lop Ears Wall-Paper

The bobcat, since he couldn’t see the caracal, decided a nap was in order, too.
Bobcat Nap

…and someone must have clued in Nubo.
Nubo Naps

However, the tiger was stalking in the grass.
Tiger in the Weeds

The February Trip to the Cincinnati Zoo   1 comment

I watched some snow leopard videos last week, that left me jonsing for a trip to the zoo. I made it out that this last weekend. On the way to the Night Hunters, I saw an Andean condor.
Andean Condor

Next door was a stellar sea eagle.
Stellar Sea Eagle

Once at night hunters, one of the Pallas cats was hanging out on a rock checking out everyone who came in. He seemed quite interested in me.
Manul on the Rocks
So fluffy!

The clouded leopard was having a bath.
Cleaning the Toes

How many cat owners know what I mean when I describe something as the “chello” pose?
Cloudie Chello

I got my best shot of the bobcat! Such a handsome cat.
Handsome Bobcat

The fishing cat is in the hardest spot to get a picture. There are computer screens immediately opposite her glass, giving everything a very blue light. Black and white, unfortunately, is the only way to go.
Lounging Fishing Cat

The sand cat, always a favorite, seemed quite pensive up against the glass.
Sand Cat Daydream

Outside, the Siberian lynx was out–it was a cold enough morning for it. I hadn’t seen her in a while.
Siberian Lynx

Tecumseh the cougar was sleeping in a ball.
10.8, in Sleep Mode

His brother, Joseph, had to photobomb him!
Joseph Photobombs His Brother
Phpppt!

The tiger area wasn’t too crowded, so I could spend some time looking at these amazing cats.
Tiger Face

The Cincinnati Zoo has Malayan tigers, the second smallest tiger subspecies. They weigh in at just under two hundred pounds. In contrast, the Amur tiger, the largest cat, weighs nearly twice that. I’ve been reading a book about Amur tigers, titled Tiger: A true Story of Vengeance and Survival. I’ll probably post more about the book once I finish it, but the author cites a description of tigers having a “heavy grace.” I think it is quite apt.
Tiger on the Ledge

Phppppt!
tiger Tongue

Snow leopards Renji and Nubo were having a quiet Sunday morning, relaxing in the sun.
Snow Leopard Sunday

I have no idea what Renji saw.
Renji Sees…Something

Nubo wasn’t that interested.
Nubo Yawns

It must have moved. She’s such a pretty cat!
Renji Looks Beyond the Fence

Yes, Nubo, you’re cute, too.
Relaxed Nubo

The arctic fox was in his vantage way up high.
Arctic Fox

I walked up to the otter enclosure. One walked right up to me.
Approaching Otter

Could someone please clean this window?
Will Someone Clean this Glass?

Finally, the Mexican wolves were enjoying their morning.
Sitting Wolf

Lazy Wolf

Afternoon at the Cincinnati Zoo   1 comment

I had an afternoon off, and went to the Cincinnati Zoo. I heard they had two arctic fox pups.
Fox on the Rocks

Cute little guys.
Fox Pup in the Sun

While not the Arctic, it was a chilly day.
Penguin

Snow leopards Renji and Nubo were having a nice day. Renji walked with her tail high.
Renji, Tail High

Nubo just laid in the sun.
Nubo in the Sun

Yaaaaawn!
Nubo is Bored

Renji thought laying in the sun was a good idea.
Snow Leopard Tongue

Joseph the cougar surveyed his domain.
Joe's Lookout

Inside Night Hunters, the Pallas cat practically insisted I take his picture.
Take My Picture, Please

The black-footed cat was posing, too.
Staring BFC

So cute for a cat known as the ant-hill tiger.
Standing BFC - Version 3

I have no idea what he’s doing back there.
I Have No Idea What He's Doing.

For whatever reason, there were a lot of toys out. Sand cats aren’t that much bigger than house cats. It stands to reason, they might have the same taste in toys.
I Haz a Toy

Mama Fishing Cat was pondering deep thoughts.
Curious Fishing Cat

I also took a few pictures of Miss Caracal…but more on that later.
Stalking Caracal

Festival of Lights 2012   Leave a comment

It’s an annual tradition at the Cincinnati Zoo: the Festival of Lights. The zoo stays open late, with hundreds of LEDs strung throughout the zoo.
Tree on the Lake (Red)

Obviously, a yuletide theme was used on many of the lights.
Santa Lights

Of course, some were suggesting warmer climates.
Flamingo Lights

Being dark and after their typical hours, many animals weren’t out. However, the polar bear seemed quite appropriate to say “hi” to.
Polar Bear

Apparently, the Cincinnati Zoo is one of the places a team of reindeer hang out. Will they be there tonight?
(Not So) Tiny Reindeer

Elephant House
The iconic Elephant House at night.

The turtles weren’t out, but they were represented in lights…
Turtle Lights

…and in bronze.
Caitlin on the Turtle

The cougar brothers were being quite active, and had quite the crowd. It was difficult to get a good photo of them. Still, it was neat to see them romp and tackle each other, much like Eddy and Beso.
Cougar in the Moonlight

Cat Canyon, where snow leopards Renji and Nubo are, was closed. Perhaps they were busy helping the Christmas Snow Leopard?
Snow Leopard Lights

Inside the Night Hunters building, however, the pallas cat kept watch. They look warm and fuzzy.
Fuzzy Cat

Most cats were asleep, including the clouded leopard…
Cloudie Dreams

…and the black footed cat.
Black-Footed Nap

Even Miss Lop-Ears the caracal was sleeping. Can you find her?
Where's the Caracal?

However, Mama Fishing cat was up and active.
(Grand)Mother Fishing Cat

Good to see her up and about.
Stalking Fishing Cat

The fennec foxes kept watch as well.
Watching Fennec Fox

It was a great night to go to the zoo.
Nutcracker Rhino

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.
Nom!

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.

Miss Caracal and Galápagos Tortoises   2 comments

Last week, we made a trip to the Cincinnati Zoo, to see the tail end of Zoo Babies. We also wanted to check out their new Galápagos Tortoise exhibit.
Galápagos Tortoise 1
Their life span is in excess of a hundred years, with one individual reaching 170. These tortoises were only four years old, so they were actually relatively small.
Galápagos tortoise (In the Water)
They have a statue to demonstrate just how big they will get.
Tortise Statue

Another relative youngster was Tallahassee, a two-year-old alligator. When we left, we said “see you later, alligator.” Tallahassee’s keeper laughed politely.
Tallahassee the Alligator

Flamingos were out in force.
Reflecting Flamingos

Kimba the giraffe looks, well, bored.
Bored Kimba

While Tessa tries to get a cracker.
Tessa's Tongue

The otters were playful.
Otter 1
Though neither really looked like Benedict Cumberbatch.
Otter 2

Many animals, such as this black rhino, dozed.
Black Rhino

As did the clouded leopard (taken just for @ColeImperi):
Dozing Clouded Leopard

The lions were more lounging.
Bored Lion

Which the ocelot thought was a good idea.
Sleepy Ocelot

Whenever I get a chance, I like to take a picture of the bottom of the sand cat’s foot, to see the fur on the bottom. This helps them walk across the hot desert.
Sand Cat Toes
Pretty cat!
Standing Sand Cat

The pallas cat was as camouflaged as ever.
Pallas Cat on the Rocks

Joseph and Tecumseh were keeping an eye on the yard.
Glaring Cougar
Such big paws!
Curious Cougar

Every trip, one cat seems to capture my attention in particular. Miss Caracal was the cat of the day. And, for good reason. Like servals, they are able to jump up and catch birds out of the air. However, they have a more muscular build and shorter tail. We think she was looking at a bobcat across the hall.
Sitting Caracal
The tufts on the tips of their ears are long, and usually stand straight up. Via ISEC, I heard from a former keeper of this animal. Apparently hers have dropped since she was a kitten. Just a fashion statement, I suppose.

We always like catching cat tongues.
Caracal Slurp

Miss Caracal was very active that day, bouncing all over her enclosure. I really enjoyed watching her.
Caracal Jump!

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