Archive for the ‘sand cats’ 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.

2014 Cheetah Run at the Cincinnati Zoo   Leave a comment

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.
Caitlin and Rebecca Run 1

I’m quite impressed with their running. I only run if something is chasing me (or I’m late for the bus).
Caitlin and Rebecca Run 2

After the run, we decided to walk around the zoo. Remember Gladys, the orphaned baby gorilla? She’s getting bigger.
Gladys and Friend

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.
Baby Asha

We stopped to say “hi” to Renji and Nubo. Renji was wondering what was with all the smelly(-er-than-usual) people.
Renji Wonders What's With All the Sweaty Humans

Nubo just set about making sure his paws were clean.
Cleaning the Toes

Inside, I got some good pictures of the black-footed cats. They were quite active that morning.
Pondering BFC

BFC Watching Me

Lounging BFC

The sand cat took a great leap!
Jumping Sand Cat

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.
Dreamy Miss Caracal

Dobby the pygmy owl saw us out.
Pygmy Owl

We had a great morning! The Cheetah Run is a wonderful fundraiser for one of the best zoos in the country!
Caitlin and Rebecca Run 3

Lions, Tigers, Caracals, and Old Friends at the National Zoo   2 comments

Hanging with Dad
From Philadelphia, we went south to our nation’s capital, Washington, D.C. Our first stop there was the Smithsonian National Zoological Park, otherwise known as the National Zoo. There were several animals we wanted to see, and was an amazing campus.

On entry, a prairie dog peeked up to greet us.
Prarie Dog Peep

But, let’s face, it, I was there to see cats. The National Zoo did not disappoint. There were two sets of lion cubs, for a total of seven.
Cub on a Ledge!

They were getting into everything!
Tugging the Hose

Reach the Branch

Cub by the Branch

Two Cubs Walk Into a Bar...

…and on to everyone!
Attack Mom!

There dad is Luke, a very handsome dude.
Luke and His Kids

If I’m reading this right, he’s the father of John, the new African lion at the Cincinnati zoo. Good looks clearly run in the family. And he knows it.
Smell That Fresh Air!

But, seven cubs can be exhausting!
Snoozing Lion

There were also two tiger cubs and their mom. The cubs are right at a year old.
Tiger Secrets

They like to stalk…
Stalking Tiger

…have a drink…
Have a Drink

…and, of course, take a nap. They are cats, after all.
Don't Wake the Tiger

I was excited to see a caracal, a cat they don’t have at very many zoos.
Sitting Caracal

He was a bit shy.
Caracal in the Grass

The caracal decided to wander off. As a cat geek, I understood, even if I think I was one of the few who was most excited to see them.
Caracal Stroll

As is often the case, the caracal was positioned near a bobcat.
Bobcat

We got to see a snoozing sand cat.
Snoozing Sand Cat

And a snoozing clouded leopard. Like I said, they’re cats; they sleep.
Dream Cloudie

Another sleeping cat we saw was an old friend. Lek is a fishing cat, born in Cincinnati. I have pictures of him and his brothers as cubs.
Dozing Lek

This Queen City boy has fathered four cubs with Electra, a female.
Lek Watching Me

We like cheetahs.
Alert Cheetah

DC Cheetah

Lounging Cheetah

My daughter has also started taking photos at zoos, getting her own perspective on the animals.
Caitlin Taking Pictures

Caitlin Photographs a Meerkat

There were seven Asian small clawed otter pups.
Peeking Otter Pup

Some were busy constructing something.
OTTERS at WORK

Others…less so.
Otter Belly!

I’m always amused at zoos when there are animal “tourists.” Usually it’s a squirrel or some birds. The elephants appeared to have a pet deer.
Pet Deer
The keepers seemed to indicated this was an ongoing problem, but didn’t really pose a danger to either species.

Meet the Ruppell’s griffon vulture. While this one was hanging out on the ground, these are the highest-flying bird on the planet. They are typically cited as flying in the thin air at 20,000 feet, though there are records of them being as high as nearly 40,000 feet.
Ruppell's Griffon Vulture

Lots of turtles on a log.
Turtles on a Log 2

Turtles on a Log 1

Degu are small rodents native to South America.
Degu on a Branc

I’m becoming quite the fan of the burrowing owl.
DSC_7438

We had a great day at the National Zoo, and walked over its great expanses.

Catnaps at the Cincinnati Zoo   Leave a comment

As I mentioned, until last week, I hadn’t been to a zoo since right around New Year’s Day. I had to look: it had been since late NovemberNOVEMBER–since I had been to my beloved Cincinnati Zoo.

The Polar Vortex really put a damper on our fun this year.

We made it out this weekend, to make sure we got to see Zoo Blooms. However, the blooms had come up yet.

The Polar Vortex really put a delay on our fun this year.

We did make a point of saying “hi” to the cats. Renji and Nubo were taking a nap, foreshadowing the day.
Snow Leopard Naps

Nubo did pick his head up to greet us. What a handsome boy!
DSC_5279

Naps were the theme inside, whether you were a fishing cat…
Dreams of Sushi

…sand cat…
Sand Cat Ball

…or ocelot.
Ocenap

The fennec fox was even catching a few Z’s.
All Ears

Even the animals that were awake were mellow. I’ve never seen a black footed cat on top of this log before this visit. It’s tinyness was obvious.
Cat on a Log

The caracal, another favorite of mine, was taking a bath. Her camouflage is…um…obvious.
Miss Lop-Ears Takes a Bath

Outside, cougar Tecumseh was also napping.
Snoozing Puma

His brother, Joseph, saw something and made ready.
Crouching Puma

He gave chase, only to have his prey, a squirrel, run outside the fence.
Stalking Puma

Better luck next time!

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!

Checking in on Santos the Ocelittle   1 comment

Santos, the ocelot cub (“ocelittle”) at the Cincinnati Zoo is about the size of Eddy when I first met him. I have to remind myself that he was only two weeks old, and will sleep a lot more than he plays. I decided to check on him today, at the three-week mark. He was still a sleepily little boy.
Sleepy Santos

Love the chin!
Ocelittle Chin

But he did start to wake up a bit. I got to see his eyes!
Santos the Ocelittle

Santos Profile

Clearly, he’s more capable. I got to see him walk around a bit…
Sittin' Santos

And even play with a keeper, and the plush animals in his enclosure.
Ocelittle vs. Clouded Leopard

That Tickles!
That tickles!

I was a bit crazy going out to the zoo–the temperature never saw above thirty. I stopped into Night Hunters, in part to warm up. A black footed cat was in plain sight.
BFC Meatloaf

And a sand cat fell asleep on top of his hill.
Sand Cat Nodding Off

The bobcat looked like he had some news for me…
Bobcat

Miss Caracal was back!
DSC_3118

I hadn’t seen her since at least the spring. I don’t know where she was, but I was getting a bit worried. It was really good to see her again!
Miss Caracal is Back!

While humans weren’t fond of the cold day, snow leopards live for it. Renji and Nubo were up front, and happy to have a chat.
Renji and Nubo Enjoy the Brisk Day

Nubo was a bit of a show-off.
DSC_3140

Renji maintained her mysterious composure.
Pensive Renji

While there are plenty of unusual animals in the official collection, there are “wild” animals that pass through. The problems squirrels were causing made news lately. Today, I saw a domesticated cat, probably a stray, on the grounds.
Stray at the Zoo

I had mentioned I didn’t get to see puffins too often. My wife pointed out the Cincinnati Zoo had them, we just don’t go in the exhibit that often. I was passing it, it looked warm, so I popped in.
Cincinnati Puffin

I also got a family picture of all three red pandas!
Red Panda Clan

While cold, it was a good day to see the zoo, and I am glad to see little Santos growing up.
Sweet Santos

Happy National Cat Day!   Leave a comment

It’s National Cat Day! Let’s celebrate cats both wild and domesticated.
Pensive Eddy

Catnap

Proud John

Through the Hoop!

Rolling Tiger

Pallas Kitten on a Log

Siblings

I Haz a Toy

Pinot in the Grass

Savanna Trots

Barn Cats (Close)

Caracal Dreams

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!

Cheetah Run and Running Cheetahs   2 comments

Caitlin, Rebecca, and a CheetahMy wife took up running this year. She started running on a treadmill at the gym. Some mornings this winter and early spring, I’d go to ride a stationary bike (as conditions didn’t support going out riding), I would see her run on the treadmill. She gradually started to incorporate the indoor track, and increasing her endurance. We had an exceptionally nice summer this year, encouraging her to run outside–that’s something, given the hills in our neighborhood.

I’ve been very proud and impressed by her dedication to this.

She decided to do her first 5K run (3.1 miles), which happened this weekend at the annual Cheetah Run at the Cincinnati Zoo. This is an annual fundraiser for the zoo. The course runs both throughout the zoo and it’s beautiful gardens, to outside, looping the perimeter of the zoo.

The run was at 8 AM, but we got a tip from one of my wife’s coworkers that the parking would fill up quickly. This meant that, on a Sunday morning, we were waking up at 6:30. We made sure everyone had their gear, and headed out. It turns out it was good advice. While the lot still had plenty of room when we got there, there were a lot of runners trying to get in to the lot. Complicating matters, some streets were being closed in anticipation of the run. We got parked OK, and had plenty of time to get to the start (at the other end of the zoo).

Still, it was very early, even for a brown bear.

6:30 is Too Early for Bears

My daughter and I were there to cheer her on (and take pictures). My daughter made a sign, which got lots of compliments.
Go Mom Mom Mom!
Notice that my wife is ahead of the cheetah in this drawing.

My wife did great, completing the course in 0:40:25. I’m particularly impressed given the terrain. I’ve taken my bike on a loop around the zoo, and there is a pretty significant climb she had to go up.
DSC_1488

I know that, on foot, I could not do nearly as well.
Down the Hill

She said she pushed hard, as she wanted to watch my daughter run in the kids’ event, the Cheetah Cub Run.
DSC_1526

After the run, the Cat Ambassador Program had a special Cheetah Encounter Show, where we got to watch the cheetahs run. I somehow feel watching a cheetah run after doing a 5K is a bit like watching a house cat stretch after doing yoga: it’s a bit as if the cats are flaunting their superiority. One-year-old Savanna did the first run. I remember seeing her as a cub–it’s amazing to see what a fast, beautiful cat she’s turning in to.
Savanna's First Attempt

But then she stopped.
Savanna Looks for the Lure

The lure is pulled by an electric motor. Mid-run the motor broke down, leaving a very confused cheetah. Watching her confused pacing reminded me of when Beso loses track of a toy he’s playing with.
The Lure was Here a Minute Ago...

The backup-up rig was brought out, and the lure restrung. Savanna got a second go at it.
Savanna Tries Again

She had a great run.
Savanna Flies

Sarah, the world’s fastest mammal, shows everyone what true running speed is.
Sarah Shows Everyone What Really Running Is

The Cheetah Encounter involves other cats. Jambo the serval came out.
Sitting Jambo

Servals are to jumping what cheetahs are to running–the NBA has nothing on Jambo.
Like Floating in Space

Usually, Minnow the fishing cat jumps into the pool, however, she wasn’t there today. For that matter, she wasn’t there the last time we saw the cheetahs run. I asked afterwards–it turns out her trainer was on vacation, so Minnow wasn’t participating. They said they brought a small pool with fish in it for her. Minnow is a favorite of mine, and I was glad to hear that she is OK.

John the Lion’s enclosure is right near the Cathryn Hilker Running Yard. He was finding a shady place.
John in the Shade

I wanted to check on Nubo, my favorite zoo animal. He was asleep, like any reasonable person (or snow leopard) would be on a Sunday morning.
Napping Nubo

His friend Renji was relaxing, and simply looking beautiful. She could be Queen of the Zoo.
Renji, Queen of the Zoo

One of the black footed cats disapproved of me. I have no idea why.
Disturbed BFC

The sand cats were sleeping. One up on top of the hill.
Tails Keep Noses Toasty

The other was off in a corner.
Sand Cat in the Corner
I’m proud of this shot. I got in close, and manual focused to get a good look. However, the lighting in Night Hunters is very difficult to work with, and I suspect the shot would be in the discard pile. However, I think the lighting caught him quite well. A few adjustments in Aperture, and it became one of the best of the day.

Joe the cougar was taking time to smell the flowers.
Taking Time to Smell the Flowers

We checked in on the baby skunk. He’s gotten big!
Li'l Skunk

One animal that was surprisingly lively was the red panda, otherwise known as a firefox.
Red Panda in the Tree

Ironically, he said he tended to use Safari.
Panda on the Ground

It was a great morning at the zoo. I’m very proud of my wife for her run, and look forward to her next accomplishment.

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

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