During Wild Bites, mentioned in this post, we visited the rhino enclosure. There were two rhinos inside munching on their evening feed. The enclosure was not ideal for getting photos as they were indoors and there was a lot in the way. However, they did head outside a couple of times. I thought this might be my opportunity. There were two areas where you could view them while outside and, while they could move between them quickly, to get around the outside required a bit more speed. I looked at which way I thought the rhinos were heading. They decided to change their minds and go the other way. I was scurrying around like an idiot trying to get in position. I never did a good job of it sadly.
The Wild Bites food stands were scattered around the zoo. One of the restaurants was serving a salmon dish. They were set up right next to the bear enclosure. The two brown bears in the enclosure seemed to be very interested in the food. The smell of the fish was wafting in their direction and their noses were twitching like crazy. They had been given their own food at the same time but I think that they were a lot more interested in our stuff than theirs. I can’t say I blame them because it did taste great.
Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle was holding a fundraising event this summer. It was called Wild Bites. Taking place in the evening, it consisted of a bunch of Seattle restauranteurs having food stands throughout the zoo along with some drinks stands. You could wander around between the enclosures, take a look at the animals, stop for some snacks themed on the part of the zoo they were in and grab a drink too.
It was an enjoyable evening with some really interesting food and a nice atmosphere. I will have some follow up posts with specific animals from the evening but overall we had a really nice time. A minor problem was that a lot of the animals seemed to turn in for the evening once normal closing time came around. We found quite a few were settling down or were already asleep. Also, the drink stands seemed to run out of stuff later in the evening and, since we had waited to sample some of their stuff, to find it was out seemed a bit off.
Still, it was a nice evening and the zoo was a great place to wander as the light gently faded away. It was all raising money for the zoo too so a worthwhile cause. Keep an eye out for something similar if you live in the area.
We took a wander through the butterfly enclosure at Woodland Park Zoo. These enclosures require a fair bit of care on the part of the visitor. They briefed you as you went in what to watch for. Double doors are at the entrance and exit to stop the butterflies escaping (or at least keep them in the entrance hall if they do manage to sneak out). You must watch carefully for them. They will land on you and your stuff but they will often be resting on the ground. Treading on one will not be considered cool!
I will state right now that I didn’t make much effort to photograph a butterfly in flight. They are rather fast movers as you quickly discover if you try to photograph them while airborne. I have tried this before and I wasn’t going to frustrate myself again. Instead I settled for a few shots of the stationary versions. I assure you that they were real and alive – this was not a staged creation for me.
Wildlife is an attractive subject for photography, particularly when the creature in question is colorful. A flamingo certainly fits the bill with the vibrant pink coloring. In addition, given that they have such long necks and shapely heads, they can curl themselves up in ways that make for an interesting image. The Woodland Park Zoo had a bunch of flamingos (a prize for the person that tells me the collective noun for flamingos without having to Google it).
Most of the birds were just hanging around, wandering about the enclosure and eating/drinking. A few of them were asleep and a couple seemed to be pretty aggravated with each other. These guys were chasing around the place and generally getting worked up which seemed to be nothing more than an inconvenience to the other birds. The ones trying to sleep seemed particularly unimpressed by the disturbance.
The way in which a flamingo will sleep makes for a cool shot. Aside from the single leg pose (apparently easy even while unconscious), they curl their necks around and rest their heads on the back of their bodies, apparently facing backwards. The curve of the neck and the way in which the head sits in their back feathers is a great shape and zooming right in to get a tight shot of this seemed to make a lot of sense. (Besides, when you are carrying a long lens all day, shooting with it must be the right thing to do huh?)
Visiting the zoo is often a game of hide and seek with the animals. They live according to their normal schedules and are not inclined to be active just because you happen to be there. They also will find a favored location in their enclosure which is not putting them on display to the animals on the other side of the glass. You may catch a glimpse of something sleeping in a shadowy space or you may wonder whether the animal is even in there.
When we got to the red panda enclosure, I was half expecting to not see very much. I figured this would be another reclusive creature. I was wrong. I don’t know whether they are naturally energetic creatures, whether they are curious about their visitors or whether some unseen motivation is given to them to get out there but these guys were the exact opposite of what I had anticipated. They had a number of trees within their space and they were very happy to zip around through the branches. This often brought them right up front to where the visitors were standing. They would happily motor about, stare at the people, head back, disappear for a while before reappearing and repeating the process. Their public was suitably appreciative.
I knew that gorillas were vegetarians, happy to chomp on branches and leaves for hours at a time. What I didn’t know is that they have what I guess might be considered a sweet tooth. They were scattered throughout their enclosure but two of them were together in one section that had a glass viewing wall for the other apes to watch them. The staff had recently put a load of food out for them and this included some bunches of flowers.
When I first saw the flowers, I was slightly perplexed. It seemed like an odd thing to have put out. However, the alpha male homed in on them. Even then I assumed he would eat the leaves. Not so. He was happy to strip the flowers from the branches and chew them up. The rate at which he went through them made it seem pretty clear that this was a preferred treat for him. Having never tried eating flowers, I have no idea what they taste like. They smell nice so does that translate into a nice flavor? I’m not going to try eating some to find out but, judging by his approach, there must be something to them.
Most people have probably heard of Komodo Dragons. However, while checking out this fella at the Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle, I read that they were known as Komodo Monitors for many years until some guy from the US saw one in the 20s and decided to start calling them dragons. Amazingly, it seems it stuck. They certainly don’t fit the traditional image of dragons but they are pretty dangerous if they happen to bite you. At that point, I doubt you will be too bothered about the the distinction and more bothered about your potential impending death.
Given that this blog has a lot of aviation content, some people will get excited when they see the word Warthog. Sorry guys, this is not an A-10 post. I may have to put one together now though since I want to see some A-10s on here too. This is a warthog of the animal variety instead. There were a couple of warthogs we saw at Woodland Park Zoo. Initially they were rummaging around under cover and not in a good spot for a photo. However, a little patience paid off and soon they moved out into the open. Then we got a good look at them and the chance to really see their faces. They may not be everyone’s favorite but I find them a great looking creature and certainly something you want to treat with some respect!
A pair of hippos was hanging out in the water of their enclosure in Woodland Park Zoo. One was facing away from us and was submerged for most of the time. The other was facing us and was staring in our direction. The shot I want of a hippo is the large yawn showing off the scary array of teeth that backs up their reputation as one of the most dangerous animals to man. This guy wasn’t obliging. They say that humans have a natural reaction to seeing a yawn from someone of yawning themselves. The people that don’t do this have a higher probability of being sociopaths. I thought I would try it with the hippo. Either it knew I was faking it or hippos are sociopaths. I wonder which it is.