Archive for the ‘Zoos & Aquariums’ 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

Relaxing…
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.
Sluuuurp!

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.
Yawn!

But Nubo saw something.
Crouching Leopard

He stalked towards it. I was confused, and fixated on the cats.
Stalking...

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

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Red Panda Village at the Knoxville Zoo   Leave a comment

Red Panda Portrait
Our last stop on our way home was at the Knoxville Zoo. One really nice perk of a zoo membership is reciprocal agreements with other zoos. Most either offer free admission or give a signficant discount to members of other zoos. In Knoxville, all we had to pay for was parking. Our museum membership has a similar network–definitely a great way to support local institutions and at the same time save money on vacation.

It was, however, a somewhat grey day, with showers on and off. There were very few other attendees, as the animals were also taking it easy. The river otter, however, was having a good time doing back flips.
Otter Backflip

Otter Backflip 2

They have a striking profile.
Otter Profile

My daughter has been taking up the photo habit as well.
Otter Paparazzi


There were a pair of non-releasable bald eagles hanging out.
DSC_0217

The red wolf is a very endangered species. The core wild population is actually in my old neck of the woods: southwest Louisiana and southeast Texas.
DSC_0234

I think we woke the lion.
Relaxing Lion

We went to go see the Malayan tigers, where a keeper was just wrapping up a talk.
Tan the Tiger

We spoke with the keeper. Tam, and his brother, were cubs five years ago in the Cincinnati Zoo. They were some of my first cat photos! I showed them a few baby pics, with a lot of “awwws.” They looked at my favorite shot of them, below, and they thought it might be Tam.
Snug in the Logs

The drizzle picked up, and Tam got bored of us.
Tan Wanders Off

The centerpiece of the Knoxville Zoo is their Red Panda Village.
Firefox Trio

In fact, more red pandas have been born in Knoxville, 101, than any other zoo in the Western Hemisphere. Only a Dutch zoo has had more.
Panda Ball

Red pandas are the only remaining true panda species. The giant panda–the black and white kind–are actually bears.
Boop the Nose!

Red pandas were actually discovered (and named) first.
Firefox Logged On

They also happen to be my daughter’s favorite animal.
Caits and the Red Panda

We had a lot of fun wrestle and chase each other.
Wrestling 5--In the Tree

Wrestling 1

Wrestling 2

Wrestling 3

Pounce!
Wrestling 4--Pounce!

We could have spent a long time watching the firefoxes, as red pandas are also known, play. However, we had to make our way back to Cincinnati.
Bye Bye, Firefox

Riverbanks Zoo and Garden in Columbia, South Carolina   1 comment

Our path back to Cincinnati from Florida took us through South Carolina. We took a break at the Riverbanks Zoo and Garden, in Columbia. It was a smaller zoo, but had some wonderful exhibits. The first thing we saw was one of my wife’s long-standing favorites, koalas.
Sleepy Koala

We saw two, each in their own tree. We looks a bit closer, and realized our count was off.
Mom and Joey

One of the koalas had a joey, a little baby, sleeping snuggly with its mom.
Snug Little Baby

Neither did much other than doze. We talked to a keeper, who showed us a video on her phone of the joey riding around on its mother’s back. Cute!

The koalas weren’t the only antipodal animal.
Who's Looking at You, 'Roo?

Dragons were hanging out.
Dragon Pile

One thing I did not like, at least in th aquarium/reptile area, was the lack of signage. I’m not sure if this is an alligator or crocodile. He looked happy either way.
Croc Grin

Perhaps because they were playing “dogpile on the turtle.”
Crocpile on the Turtle

One of the many things I learned reading Bill Nye’s book, Undeniable: Evolution and the Science of Creation, is that a group of giraffes is called a “column.”
Column of Giraffes

They had a pretty good cat collection, divided between large and small cats. In fact, they had the largest cat, the Amur tiger.
Amur Tiger

They had two lions, this handsome male…
Perched Lion

…and this shy female (actually, she was just washing her face).
Embarrassed Lion

WINK!
Winking Lion

The website indicated they had black-footed cats. Other sources didn’t mention BFCs, but did allude to fishing cats. We weren’t sure what we’d get to see. We first came across a pair of fishing cats.
Fishing Cat Profile

They are among my favorite felids. We got to see a surprising number of different cats on this trip: snow leopards, jaguars, cougars, leopards, tigers, lions, servals, caracals, lynes, bobcats, fishing cats, sand cats, and black-footed cats. Fourteen in all (fifteen if you include a felis silvestris catus we saw at a bookstore).

Perched Fishing Cat

I like to take pictures of cats yawning.
Big Yawn!

As I mentioned, they had a representative of the largest of the cat family, the Amur tiger. The black-footed cat is the second smallest cat.
Black Footed Cat in Front

They are fierce predators–I wouldn’t want to meet one in a dark alley. These two, however, were having fun peeking around their log.
Peek-a-Boo!

BFC Stalks the Feather

It was a fun stop, and we enjoyed seeing some of our favorite animals.
He's Looking Right At Me

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.

The Philadelphia Zoo is a Series of Tubes   Leave a comment

Tiger in the Tube

Our summer vacation took us eastward this year. Our first stop was Philadelphia. There, we checked out the Philadelphia Zoo, the nation’s oldest zoo. I was rather impressed by their animals, as well as the enrichment they were afforded.

One of the neatest bits of enrichment was Zoo360 Animal Exploration Trail, a series of enclosed paths for animals to meander. They had it for primates, but I first encountered some goats.
Goats on a Bridge

But the coolest was yet to come: Big Cat Crossing. This path allowed their lions, jaguars, leopard, cougars, and snow leopards to explore the zoo. When we were there, a pair of tiger brothers, born at the Columbus Zoo, were watching the crowds.
Tiger Tube

Looking Down on Us

They really are handsome cats.
The Sun is Too Bright!

In the big cat area, we also got to see lions.
Makini the Lion

Maya, a female snow leopard was there with her two (older) cubs, Buck and Ranney. The cubs were quite active, pouncing and wrestling with each other.
Tag! You're It!

Teasing a Sib

Peek-a-Boo

Tusslin' Flurry

Pondering the Next Pounce

Though her kids tried to get her into the mix, Mama Maya decided to stay above the fray.
Happy Maya

Such a pretty snow leopard!
Pretty Maya

The tiger girls were in their enclosure, stalking.
Stalking Tiger

Sniff!


One came right up to the glass I was crouching by to take pictures, and sprayed right next to me. At first I was disgusted, until my daughter pointed out by “marking” me, she was claiming me. I was…honored…really.
Contemplative Tiger

There were black-footed kittens!
Sleeping Like a Log 2


Of course, they were all asleep. Still quite cute.
Cats Love Boxes (Whatever Kind They Are)

Was this one getting up?
Wrong Side of the Bed

Nope. Just shifting.
Sleeping Like a Log

A Canadian lynx sat in the sun.
Sunny Lynx

There was a cheetah nearby. A keeper gave a talk, discussing his encounters with different cheetahs who passed through his care. The cheetahs had a lure system, which the keeper seemed surprised was good enrichment for the worlds fastest mammal.
Philly Cheetah

Cheetah Trot

The series of tubes proves to be enrichment for homo saphiens, too.
Rebecca in the Tubes

My daughters new favorite animal is the red panda, which I’m a fan of, too.
Peeking

Quite cute and fluffy!
Snack Time

O HAI!
On the Platform

Tony is a southern white rhino with a big horn!
Tony, the Southern White Rhino

Ever see a Galapagos tortoise cuddle puddle?
Tortoise Cuddle Puddle


Serious close-up!
Snugglin' Tortoise

I liked watching the maned wolf. Such striking color.
Maned Wolf

Having obsessed over their pens lately, it was nice to see brown pelicans Crackle and Snap.
Snap and Crackle

Overall, I really enjoyed the Philadelphia Zoo. It was a good size for walking around and spending a day, and they clearly cared a lot about their animals. And the animals seemed to enjoy each other.
Changing of the Guard

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

Baby Giraffe!   4 comments

I took the day after TOSRV as PTO. My wife had the afternoon off, and after lunch, we decided to pop into the Cincinnati Zoo. It was very spontaneous–I didn’t have my DSLR, but I had my iPhone. The perfect camera is the one you have with you.

Why? Why to see Nasha, of course.
Pretty Nasha

Nasha is a baby giraffe born on April 28. Here she is with her mom, Tessa, and an “aunt.”
Nasha, her Mom, and an "Aunt"

Outside was her dad, Kimba.
Kimba, the Father

It was Nubo’s birthday, so we stopped over to wish him well.
Nubo Relaxes

Finally, on the way out, we saw Jack, a baby camel.
Baby Camel

All in all, it was a fun afternoon at the zoo.

Seyia and Kilua at the Cincinnati Zoo   Leave a comment

The Cincinnati Zoo made a couple of announcements since my last visit, neither of which involved cats. It was, however, for two of my favorite non-felids animals. We had a gorgeous day, so I decided to go check it out.

The first was Seyia, a black rhino. She just moved here from the Baton Rouge Zoo. Like most Louisiana girls, she’s very cute*.
Seyia, the Black Rhino

I confess I haven’t watched too many rhinos interacting with people. This time, I was there when her keepers were having a session with her. It was clear that she had an interest–even a fondness–for her people. It was quite cute.
Sitting with Her Peeps

The keepers train the animals behaviors that will help them in the animal’s care. In this case, Seyia has learned how to present her foot for examination.
Put Your Right Foot In

She seems to really like watermelon.
Mmmmmm...Watermelon

The other new arrival was Kilua, a baby okapi. She was born on November 30.
Kilua and her Mom, Kuvua

She is a very active girl!
Okapi Trot!

The black bear was enjoying the sun.
Snoozin Bear

As was this penguin.
Penguin on the Rock

Of course I stopped by the cats! Techumseh the cougar was being active.
Techumseh on the Rocks

They fed the caracal while I was there. I remind myself that, in the wild, small birds are commonly their prey. Today, they gave her a chick. It wasn’t alive, but a bit odd to see. I’m not posting the picture here, but I did link to the picture.

Renji and Nubo, the snow leopards, were relaxed. Nubo did raise his head to say “hi.”
Nubo's stare

The tigers were even more relaxed, melting into a puddle. Not the tongue.
Tiger Puddle

*Louisiana girls are cute, but I do find myself partial to women from the Midwest. :)

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