Archive for the ‘servals’ Category

Cats, Dogs and More Cats at the Cincinnati Zoo   Leave a comment

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.
John and Imani

They had kids! Three female cubs, named “Huruma,” “Kya,” and “Willa.”
Five Lions

I’m afraid that, in spite of good guidance, I can’t tell them apart. One was sitting close to her parents.
Sweet Cub

The other two stayed by the fence.
Sisters Hanging Out

Sisters Make Great Pillows

…until one of them decided it was playtime!
I Bite My Sisters Butt!

Nearby, were Imara and Brahma, the African painted dogs.
Imara and Brahma

They had ten pups, all with “Batman”-themed names.
Fighting Over Eggs

The “Batman” theme started with one, Joker, who seems to have a question mark on his back.
Joker and Sib

They had paper Easter eggs in their enclosure as enrichment.
Jumping the Ditch with an Egg

It was fun to watch them scamper about.
Jump the Ditch!

Just watching them wore the bat-eared fox out.
Bat Eared Fox

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.
Baby Zeke

It was late in the day, so mostly, he wanted to groom himself…
Clean Paw

…and take a nap.
Napping With Plush Animals

We had to stop and say “hi” to Nubo and Renji, the snow leopards.
Smug Nubo

Our visit began as a lazy afternoon.

But Nubo saw something.
Crouching Leopard

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!
What's Out There?

It did stir them up a bit.
Jumping Renji

Nubo jumped up on an off-camber…he handles them so much better than I do.
Off Camber

He’s such a handsome cat!
Nubo's Profile

On the way out, we saw a peacock, who wanted to show off.
Peacock Unfurled

It was fun to see all the cats, dogs, and babies!
Proud Dad, Overwhelmed Mom

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…

..and 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

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.

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.

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.

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


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!

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.

HallZOOween 2012 at the Cincinnati Zoo   Leave a comment

We went to the Cincinnati Zoo, in part so my daughter could participate in HallZOOween, their annual trick-or-treating at the zoo event. She went as a black cat.
Caitlin the Cat!

However, there were two babies we wanted to see. First, Lulu was a baby giraffe born on October 12. She stayed in her stable, close to the wall. All we could see was her head.
Lulu Hides from the Camera

We keep talking about how cute and tiny she is, even though she was taller than me when she was born. However, when she stands next to her mother, Tessa, you can tell. Again, she didn’t do that, but Tessa was in full view, having a snack.
Tessa Has a Snack

The other baby we were interested in was Savanna, the cheetah. She’s been hanging out in the running yard prior to Cheetah Encounters. Such a pretty girl!
Cheetah in Autum

She chased her dog pal, Max.
Savanna Chases Max

Mostly, she did what cheetahs do best: she ran a bit.
Savanna Takes Off

Savanna Runs

Perhaps as inspiration, Nia, the second youngest cheetah in the Cat Ambassador program ran. She really embodies the grace and power of these animals.
Nia's Dash

Note the serious cheetah running form: head low and she’s starting to pin her ears back. Even captive cheetahs treat running after prey as serious business–even if the prey is just a fuzzy dog toy.

Chance did the second run.
Chance Flies

This is the first year I’ve gotten to see Sihil, the occelot, in the Cheetah Encounter. Her climbing ability is amazing! Also, they have such lovely coats (though, at times, I think she’s wearing pajamas).
Sihil Climbs

Cleo the serval shows how to get the last chip out of a Pringle can…somehow, I don’t think I can do it as well as she can.
Reaching for a Treat
OK, Pringles aren’t enough justification for this adaptation. It’s actually how servals can reach into burrows for rodents.

Another pretty cat.
Cleo & the Pumpkin
Note the malor strips on the pumpkin (you can see these as the black stripes running from a cheetah’s eyes (near the notes) to the corner of the mouth. These function similar to the black pain football players put under their eyes to reduce glare. You can see them on Savanna below.
Dreaming of Running

Minnow the fishing cat made an appearance.
Pondering a Dive

And I still wonder why I can’t get Luna to do this:
Through the Hoop!

We went to go say “hi” to the snow leopards. On the way, George, a six-month-old bat eared fox was taking a walk.
Happy George!

We also passed a ball’o’cougar.
Ball of Cougar

Renji and Nubo were being quite playful. They also appeared to have secrets.
Snow Leopard Secrets

Renji is so pretty. Another photographer pointed out she has “Cleopatra” eye liner–I never noticed it before.
Pretty Renji

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.

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.

Cheetah Run 2011   1 comment

I’m not quite sure why it took me so long to go see the cat ambassadors at the Cincinnati Zoo. Yesterday was the first official show we got to see. They made a few tweaks, but it was fun.

For starters, they talked about training a house cat, and the difficulty in that…all while a house cat demonstrated its skills. Looking at this, I wonder if Luna has a second career?
Taming a Wild Beast

One of the cheetahs sneaked out prior to the show.
Bonus Cheetah

One of the new additions was not a cat, but a porcupine named Quilliam.

Cleo the serval demonstrated their impressive leaping ability.
Serval Jump

My best picture was of Minnow. Fishing cats are my second favorite type of cat. You can see her diving in after a fish (follow her eye line to where it was thrown in to the pond).
Diving Minnow

She got it!
I Haz a Fish!

Two cheetahs ran. First, Chance took off!
Chance Starts His Run

It’s easy to talk about the adaptations that allow a cheetah to run at 70 miles an hour–long, flat tail, big nostrils, a springy spine, and semi-retractable claws. However, you also have to stop. Cheetahs have “brakes” in the form of skid spots up their legs. Chance demonstrates his ability to brake to catch the lure.
Chace Closes in on the Lure

Sarah, the world’s fastest cheetah, ran second. She was able to catch the lure half-way through her run. The lure seemed to catch her as well–the line got wrapped around her leg. This wrapped up the show as the trainers had to get her to walk her way out of the line.
This Isn't So Hard

Still, she is a beautiful cat!
Gorgeous Sarah

We went to the awesome cat house mediocre Night Hunters exhibit. Still can’t get good pictures there. I got a tip that if I go early, they are still in “day” phase. I’ll try that some time. Still, I got a picture of a pallas cat, with lots of processing.
Pallas Cat

And this overprocessed ant hill tiger (black-footed cat).
Overprocessed Kitty Wants a New Exhibit

In non-cat news, Illusions the manatee will be released into the wild soon.
Illusions the Manatee

For some reason, I think there people are either hippo people or rhino people. I’m a rhino person.

It’s also “Halozooween,” so many animals, such as the polar bears, got pumpkins.
Polar Bear with a Pumpkin

And kids, such as my daughter, were running around in costume.
Caits in the Hay

Members’ Night at the Cincinnati Zoo   3 comments

Last Friday night was Members’ Night at the zoo. Naturally, my family and I were anxious to go check it out. We got to see the second Cheetah Encounter of the season. Minnow was there!

She is quite the lovely fishing cat…

As always, she made quite the splash

Jambo demonstrated the serval’s ability to leap high, to catch birds.

One thing I love about the felidae family is that they are simultaneously so different, yet so similar. I can often see the sameness between Eddy and the cats at the zoo. For instance, isn’t this a quintessential cat look?

The cheetahs ran. First, Chase, who is almost seven.

I’ve been following Nia Faye since she was six weeks old. She’s coming up on her second birthday, and boy is she getting fast!

Her trainers mentioned she keeps getting faster.

I still think she is the world’s cutest cheetah.

The new exhibit this year is the first phase of their revamping of their cat area. They started by merging the cat house with the nocturnal house, to create “Night Hunters.”

I don’t like it.

They took out a good number of cat species–snow leopard, bobcats, lynxes (Eurasian, Canadian, and Siberian), and I think the geofroy’s cat. In the new room, they now have bats, bintarongs, and aardwolfs. I find this sad, as the Cincinnati Zoo was known for its small cat collection. In the long term, this may be resolved, but I don’t like it.

Further, I find the exhibit too dark. Perhaps when the animals have some time to adapt, it will be better. Facebook opinion was mixed, including more than a few complaints about how dark it is (even accounting for the notional aspect of the exhibit). Everything had a blue tint to it.

In some areas, I was able to tweak my white balance, and get a better look, such as with this black footed cat.

My plan is to go back on a less crowded day and after they’ve had a chance to tune the exhibit. Still, I’m still skeptical about the change.

Seeing Snow Leopards at the Chattanooga Zoo   7 comments

I had put up a preview post about our day at the Chattanooga Zoo. It’s probably the smallest AZA accredited zoo I’ve been to, but they do seem to be growing. It was certainly a nice place to stop on our way home from Atlanta.

We were greeted by one of the most active servals we have ever had the pleasure of meeting. He was quite cute.
Happy Serval

They several peacoks.

This one seemed to be a pal of a Scottish cattle.
Scottish Cattle Playing Soccar

My daughter made fast friends with a crane. They played a game of peek-a-boo.

They had a cougar out. It’s hard to imagine our cougars growing up to be that big.
Big Cougar

Big Cougar Tongue

At least he laughed at my jokes.
Cougar Laughs at my Joke

A sleepy jaguar represented the zoo’s sole big cat.
Dozing Jaguar

However, what took us off our path was a baby snow leopard.
Snug Behind Mom

Snow leopard cubs are perhaps my favorite baby animal*. They are like stuffed animals come to life.
Hanging Out Behind Mom

Of course, mostly this little girl was interested in napping.
Sleeping Behind Mom

Except for one time mom climbed up a rock.
Where'd Mom Go?
Mom…you up there?

What's Over There?
What’s over there?

Peeking Over Mom's Back
Mom–I think we’re being watched.

I think her mom had a common parental dilemma: the need (or desire) to go do something else, but not wanting to disturb the sleeping baby.
Portrait of Mom

I know where you are coming from, Momma Snow Leopard.

Snow Leopards are endangered in the wild, with only an estimated 3,500-7,000 snow leopards in the wild. The Snow Leopard Trust is trying to reverse this through education and research.

*save, of course, for when Eddy was a kitten.

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