Bears are not known as being the most active creatures in zoo environments. They may wander around sniffing for food or take a dip but they are just as likely to be sleeping as anything. Getting some more activity is, therefore, a reason for some celebration. The reason was that the enclosure had two Grizzlies that are brothers. Put two tough brothers together and guess what happens. They start fighting.
Nothing dramatic. None of this was serious. Just the sort of sparring that boys will do if no one stops them. Of course, they do fight behind some branches so you don’t have quite as clear a view as would be ideal. Even so, watching them wrestle and bare their teeth at each other was a lot of fun.
Go to any zoo and, if there is a gorilla enclosure, you will find a lot of people. I suspect there are many reasons why people like gorillas but the similarity they have to us is probably one of the big ones. The hierarchy of their groups is also interesting and so it proved to be while we were in San Diego. One male seemed to be testing how much of the enclosure he could control. He would sit quietly in one spot for a while and the other male would find a spot to hang out somewhere out of the way.
Then the prime would decide to move. Surprisingly enough, he would always go roughly where the other male was. He would make himself scarce. He might then sneak around the back in the diction of the spot the prime had previously been. I think you can guess what happened next. This game went on for quite a while – longer than I was prepared to watch it.
Needless to say, if you are looking for similarities between gorillas and humans, go for the intimidation and pettiness elements. You should see some close parallels. It is hard to see which one is more advanced in that case!
Plenty of wildlife shots make their way on to this blog. However, the ones that get the most responses are those that involve baby animals. The cuteness factor usually does the trick. Today we shall combine a creature that is not usually known for being cute (although I do find them fascinating) with the baby element to see what results. Is a baby hippo cute?
If the responses of the visitors to San Diego Zoo are anything to go by, definitely. This baby was really very young. It was in the enclosure with its mum and the mother was teaching it to swim. They were hanging out in the water under some foliage to make the most of the shade. Periodically, they would take a swim with her pushing the baby ahead of her under water. If it popped up to the surface, she would push it back under to get it used to being under for long periods of time.
A couple of laps of the pool and then back under the foliage to take a break before repeating the process. Getting shots was not easy. First, mum was pretty protective and blocked the view of the baby a lot. It would pop up occasionally. Of course, shooting through thick glass doesn’t help. Once they were swimming there were better chances. However, the tank glass is thick and the distortion at angles is significant. Also, there were a ton of people also trying to get a view.
Despite all of this, we did get a chance to see the baby swimming around. It really was a very cute looking thing. The pictures will not be worthy of anything beyond the blog but they are a nice snapshot of the early days of a creature that will soon be a lot bigger. By the time this posts, I imagine it will have grown substantially.
Time for something colorful. Our trip to San Diego included a visit to the San Diego Zoo. Recognized around the world, this is a high quality zoo with a wide variety of animals. They seemed to be investing heavily in new enclosures for the animals which is something I appreciate a lot. The more exotic creatures are not the subject today. It is a bird and a distinctive one at that. Flamingos are a curious looking bird. Their color comes from their food so I assume the zoo has to make sure they get the right stuff to keep them looking pink. No one is going to be excited by a dull looking flamingo!
As a kid, there was a Flamingo park not far from where I lived. Consequently, I have never thought of them as exotic – just interesting. I did spend some time watching them though. The shape of their head and beak is unusual and the way they balance, rest and feed makes them worthy of some time. One day I would like to see them in the wild because they must look even better in flight!
Getting lion pictures at the zoo is not too tricky. Getting them doing anything requires a bit more patience. The middle of the day is not when they are terribly active. Sure enough, when we first passed by, they were both asleep at the back of the enclosure. When we came back, the lioness was on a different spot and the male was awake in the middle of the enclosure. If you have ever watched lions, you will know that they roar in a way that makes them look like they are blowing smoke rings. Lots of teeth in the shot are usually the result of a yawn.
That was what I was waiting for. A sleepy lion is bound to yawn before too long. Unfortunately, lions are not like people and they do not yawn sympathetically if you do. Trust me, I have tried this. Either lions are not supposed to do this or they are sociopaths like people who don’t yawn when prompted. Imagining a lion as a sociopath is probably not that much of a stretch really. Anyway, patience was rewarded and we got a yawn. Lots so teeth! Thank you…
My zoo membership was recently renewed so a trip to Brookfield was in order. We included a visit to the underwater viewing gallery for the dolphins. This can be a bit hit and miss depending on where the dolphins are and how much they want to show themselves. This time turned out to be a bit different.
One of the dolphins seemed a lot less interested in swimming around and far more fascinated by us. It was up at the end of the gallery hanging out by the window. I thought moving up would be the trigger for it moving off but went anyway. I was wrong. Instead, I ended up having a pretty amazing interaction with the dolphin. It seemed to enjoy having its picture taken and kept coming up to the window, resting its blowhole against the glass, blowing some bubbles and making lots of clicking sounds.
No point in overestimating these things but I really felt like it was talking to me. I was captivated and it seemed to have no boredom for this so we spent a lot of time like this. It was very cool. The pictures may not be the most technically accurate. Shooting through thick glass into water is problematic and the focus on the eye is not always there but, frankly, I don’t care. This dolphin was looking straight at me for ages and these images remind me of just how cool that was.
We were talking about baby pandas at home the other day. Apparently, San Diego zoo has a new baby panda. This reminded me about a trip we made to the zoo there in 2002. They had a new panda on display at that time. I got a couple of shots of it on film – hence the fact that there are only a few shots as opposed to a huge bunch of them! Anyway, this young panda was happily playing in its enclosure while large crowds gathered to watch.
I was fascinated by the bear’s interest in trying to hurt itself. It seemed constantly to be hanging from a branch upside down with a very tenuous grip on the wood. It looked like an accident was inevitable – especially since young animals haven’t always learned the extent of their capabilities. Since all pandas are owned by the Chinese government, I was imagining a fall and injury causing a diplomatic incident. Of course, nothing happened. Meanwhile, I dug out the old shots and here they are.
I did something that must have caught Nancy by surprise recently. We were going to take a trip to the zoo to see what was happening since this is a good time of year for the animals to be a bit more active before it gets too cold and they are likely to be kept indoors. The oddity was that I left the cameras at home. We discussed whether this would result in a lot of wildlife in very photogenic situations.
On the whole, I got away with it. There were some shots to be had but it was fun (and a lot easier on the back) to walk around sans gear. However, one resident did perform. One of the polar bears was playing with a ball in the pool which has a glass side to it. A large crowd was having a great time watching this. We were no exception. This was time to grab the phone and get a bit of video. Enjoy a bear enjoying himself!
I have always had a soft spot for hippos. No idea why but something about them has always interested me. I don’t think it has anything to do with Disney and tutus but you never know what your subconscious is trying to conceal. I don’t even hold it against them that they are the largest killer of humans in the animal kingdom in Africa (I am assuming that bugs and viruses are not included when that stat gets rolled out) and a creature of which you should be very wary. In fact, I love those menacing looking teeth when they yawn!
Therefore, I was rather sad to get an email from the Brookfield Zoo announcing that Wicket, the zoo’s lone hippo has left. We also have a couple of pygmy hippos but Wicket was basically alone and they have decided to move her to another zoo in Colorado so she can be with other animals. They are going to focus the efforts at Brookfield on the pygmy hippos instead.
We were at the zoo a few weeks ago when Chris was visiting. We stopped by to see Wicket. I got some shots of her as she floated – barely breaking the surface in that classic hippo pose. Chris has good memories of her too. On a previous visit she left the pool and walked across the enclosure doing something in quite a dramatic way that led to her being known as a hippoo thereafter!
I hope she likes her new home but I’m sorry to see her go. Have fun Wicket!
With a lovely spring weekend day, the city provides a lot of opportunities to hang out and enjoy yourself. One of these is Lincoln Park. Not a long walk from us but certainly a quicker bus ride gets you to the park. It is amazing how quickly the spring transformation is underway. The trees are rapidly filling out with leaves and the wildlife is also making itself obvious. There are certainly worse places to be on a weekend.
If you want to ramp up the wildlife, the park also has the zoo which is free to visit. It had been a while since we went there so we decided to take a look around. Since you can wander in and out at will, you don’t always end up looking at everything and this time was no exception. We did visit the big apes which is always a great experience. Taking in the bats was something I hadn’t done for a while as well.
We could have looked at more but I had a strong urge to find some lunch so instead we went exploring of a different kind. Maybe not as difficult as living in the wild but the results were certainly good.