Tag Archives: Brookfield


wpid6481-AU0E5946.jpgGetting 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.

wpid6479-AU0E5926.jpgThat 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…


wpid6477-C59F7460.jpgMy 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.

wpid6471-C59F7380.jpgOne 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.

wpid6473-C59F7426.jpgNo 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.


Bear Play

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!

Goodbye Wicket

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!

Winter Zoo Time

A sunny winter weekend is often a good chance to check out the zoo.  Since a lot of the animals are not fond of winter weather, there are only a few that will be outside at this time of year.  Consequently, the zoo doesn’t charge for entry so it is good for those after a cheap day out.  We are members anyway so it doesn’t make a difference to us but it is good to go anyway.

During our previous visit the Snow Leopards had been pretty active.  We were hoping to see them again – they aren’t too bothered by the cold – but we also wanted to see what else was about.  Since you aren’t paying, you can make a short visit without feeling like you should make a full day out of the admission price.  As it happened, the Snow Leopards were soundly asleep while we were there but there were other things to see.

The Tiger was showing more action that is normally the case.  This is one cat that likes to sleep.  However, we timed our arrival well and saw a fair bit of movement.  Tigers are also fine with the cold of course.  Bears are similar.  Both Polar Bears were about and one of the Brown Bears was wandering around its enclosure.

We also saw a few birds wandering around the place.  The Pelicans were out near one of the ponds and another group of birds (I am thinking Guinea Fowl but you can correct me if I am wrong) were also strutting around.  The light was very nice so not a bad afternoon.


More Young Wildlife

We took a trip to Brookfield Zoo to see the young snow leopards.  However, we also were aware that there had been some other new arrivals at the zoo since we had last visited.  One of these was a baby White Cheeked Gibbon.  After visiting the leopards, we headed for the large primate building to see how the new arrival was doing.

Shooting in the primate house is tricky since the light is not always great.  I also hadn’t planned for this so didn’t have a flash with me.  After the cold outside, the warm and humid building also made for a lot of steaming up of the gear so we spent a lot of time just looking around while everything cleared up.  The baby was certainly pretty cute.  Mum was taking good care of him while some of the other gibbons seemed to be a bit annoyed about the lack of attention they were getting.  This could involve trying to poke the baby.  However, Mum was up to the task of fending off any unwanted attention!

Young Snow Leopards

As members of the Brookfield Zoo, we get regular emails telling us about changes that have taken place at the zoo.  A recent email caught our eye.  Two new Snow Leopard cubs have arrived at the zoo.  There was a YouTube video of them playing in their enclosure.  They are not related but are of similar age and have been paired.  Just like any small cat, they were full of energy and were rolling around and fighting.  Exceedingly cute!

We figured we need to get there to see them.  When Hudson the polar bear was a cub, we were a bit slow in getting to see him and he was a little large by the time we first caught him.  Still very cute but certainly a lot bigger.  It seems that Snow Leopards grow fast too!  With winter (supposedly) here, animals outside are a rarer event since a lot fo the zoo’s creatures are not suited to Chicago winters.  We also wanted a sunny day to make some photography opportunities.

We did get to the zoo and we were lucky to have a great weather day.  Both the leopards were out in their enclosure.  They are already quite large so we missed the cutest stage.  However, they are still quite playful.  They have some high locations that they like to rest on but they would still fight with each other.  I watched one sneak up on the other and the leap in the air that resulted was very funny.

Shooting them in the enclosure can be tricky.  There is a glass wall which gives great viewing but makes shooting a little tricky.  The glass is thick and the light is very shaded.  In the enclosure open spaces they are more easily shot.  However, the high rock area they like to rest on is very close to the netting that keeps them in.  When they are further in, a shallow depth of field will remove the netting from the shot but when they are close to it, there is nothing you can do.  Hence, I apologize for the net in some shots but I still think they look cool!

Halloween at the Zoo

Whether it is the weather or whether it is some subconscious thing, it appears that we get lured to the zoo at Halloween.  The weekend weather forecast looked very promising so we thought we pop out to Brookfield to see what the animals were doing.  It was only when we got there that we realized that, being Halloween weekend, everyone was there in costumes.

This triggered something from our recollection that we had done the same thing last year.  Let’s go to the zoo when everyone else is planning on being there and all dressed up!  (I will leave my thoughts on Halloween for another post I suspect.)

As it turned out, the center area of the zoo was very busy but the rest of it was no busier than most weekends.  The sun was out and the animal were active so it was a good time to go.  We got particularly lucky with a couple of things.

I have never seen the kangaroos move before.  They have always been lying down taking a nap when I have been there.  Sometimes, this is tucked up against the  wall for extra shade.  However, this time they got up and fed for a while and even hopped across the enclosure.  That was a big plus.

Next we arrived at the brown bear enclosure and the staff were seeding the place with vegetables for the bears to find and feed on.  Consequently, we got a couple of grizzlies rummaging around the enclosure for a long time.  Given their love for dozing this was a result.  I guess the polar bears had already been fed since they were out for the count.

The lions are always a stop for us.  The male was lying down and looked like he was falling asleep.  A lion roaring has a very small mouth shape which doesn’t look like much.  A lion yawning, on the other hand, has a wide mouth and lots of teeth.  A good photo opportunity!  A little patience and we were rewarded with a big view of fangs!  As an aside, lions are not empathetic creatures since we tried yawning a bunch of time to try and induce a yawn but to no effect!

Out last stop was the leopard.  Normally another one having a nap when we are there, this time he was also on the prowl.  We only had a few minutes before it was time to lie down again but even so, this was better than normal.  Not a bad day out!

Zoo Time

Brookfield Zoo is a regular haunt for us. It is a great zoo, constantly being improved and an obvious source of photo opportunities. Recently, they sent out an email telling us that the African Wild Dogs had a load of puppies that were now old enough to be on public show. (I wouldn’t be surprised if it wasn’t just their age but also that is was now warm enough for them to handle Chicago!)

We took a ride down to the zoo to see how the pups were looking. As with all animals at the zoo, when we got there to see them, they had decided that taking a nap was more important. I always find that a zoo trip requires a fair bit of patience (which is why I am mystified that so many parents take tiny kids – they always seem to be bored while the parents look like they are obligated to take children to see the animals.)

We wandered around to see some of the other wildlife before heading back. The new bear exhibit at Brookfield is nicely done and well worth the visit so we spent some time watching the bears before heading back. A peacock wandered by in the meantime and suddenly decided to do his display. It was very dramatic, particularly if you are a peahen apparently, as a bunch of them came running over. Certainly and unexpected surprise and a very welcome one.

Back to the African Wild Dogs and a few of them were up and about. They were no longer a huge pile of sleeping pups. They weren’t bounding all over the place but they were a lot more active. It was certainly fun to see them and good to see them before they get too big. They are already half their full size so it won’t be long before you can’t tell them from their parents.

On the way out, it was impossible to avoid taking a peak at the lions. The lion was roaring loudly as we approached and was giving the lioness a fair amount of attention. I wondered whether lots of children were about to have their eyes covered but the lioness obviously had other plans and moved off. I guess spring really is in the air. First the peacock and then the lion!