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Spontaneous expedition.

04/29/2007

Yesterday I awoke red-eyed and bleary and lay in my bed for a while, staring at the ceiling and thinking about my day. What would I do with said day? Go to the library and study the Calculus I am woefully far behind on? Finish the half dozen errands and chores that have been waiting on me for a veritable geologic age? Work on my business, which has been sadly neglected with all the end-of-semester college slogging and the getting-ready-to-move? Continue getting ready to move, seeing as I’m doing it this week?

Shiny!
Shiny!

Or wave a temporary goodbye to all my responsibilities, pack up my camera and a tube of sunscreen, and run away to the Denver Zoo for a day?

C’mon, which option would you have chosen?

Being not only a Saturday, but a beautifully sunny and gloriously warm Saturday, parking was quite the trial. I ended up finding a space so far from the main entrance that I think I did almost as much walking to and from my car than I did in my six or so hours of walking around the zoo. Fortunately, as long as the sun is shining I am not one to shirk, nor even mind, a bit of extra walking.

Jaguar
Jaguar

As a proud card-carrying member of Future Crazy Cat Ladies of America, I beelined straight for the cats once I got through the massive lines and into the zoo. Unfortunately, the feline house was still closed, but there were plenty of cats outside to annoy the hell out of with my camera.

Jaguar Again
Jaguar Again

Leopard
Leopard

Identifiably different from the Jaguar by its smaller size, generally lighter color, more compact spots, and totally different habitat.

Serval
Serval in the Brush

The Serval is one of my favorite small cats. It is to the all felines what the Girafe is to things-with-hooves: a long-legged, long-necked, big-earred, gangly spotted critter that, for all its unusual stature, still manages to be one of the beauties of the group.

Serval
Sleepy Savannah Serval Snores

They’ve got discordantly long legs and big ears to help them hunt little squeaky things in the tall grass of the African plains. Also, they’ve been reported to have a melantistic variant, though I’ve never seen one; for the non-geek, melanism is the genetic variant that turns the coat black, like a so-called Black Panther (which itself is just a mutant jaguar, not a unique cat species).

Serval
Serval: the Close-Up

I’m particularly proud of that last shot and plan to draw and/or paint it once I am moved and know where my canvas stash is.

Mongoose Pile
Mongoose Pile

These little guys were so close to me I didn’t even see them at first; I could have probably managed to stretch over the barrier and touch them, if I were stupid like that. Fortunately, I’ve got two or so brain cells to rub together. They may look like a pile of irresistable fuzzy, but to cobras they’re doom wrapped up all shiny-like in a package of cute.

African Crowned Crane
African Crowned Crane

I like African Crowned Crane. They’re gorgeous animals, and that feather explosion of a crest gives them so much photogenic character.

African Crowned Crane
African Crowned Crane Returns

No, really. I like African Crowned Crane. You thought I was kidding, but I’m not.

African Crowned Crane
Revenge of the African Crowned Crane

I like them a lot. That’s not the only bird I took an insane amount of pictures of, however. Behold, the not-so-humble Peacock!

Peacock
Peacock

Peacock says: WTF are you doing, weird chick?
Peacock says: WTF are you doing, weird chick?

I have developed a sudden love for these colors.
I have developed a sudden and unnatural love for these colors.

Look at those feathers!
Look at those feathers!

This gives me knitting ideas, actually.

Child v. Peacock, Round One!
Child v. Peacock, Round One!

Ducks!
Ducks!

No, that’s not a peacock. I thought you might want a little break. One more!

Okay, so I reeeaaallly like these colors.
Okay, so I reeeaaallly like these colors.

Enough of that.

The Polar Bear Paces
The Polar Bear Paces

It was unseasonably hot for these guys- I wanted to jump in their artic-temperature pools and I don’t even have a fur coat.

The Polar Bear Paces More
The Polar Bear Paces More

Squirrel of a Different Color
Squirrel of a Different Color

After taking this picture, I developed a strange compulsion to chase after our local (and very much monotone) squirrels with a fistful of dyepots. Even the rodents are fancy in the tropics.

Ubersnake!  The King Cobra.
Ubersnake! The King Cobra.

Remember the mongeese (or is it mongooses)? Well according to legend that’s their worse enemy. It’s hard to believe when I could have held a mongoose in one hand, yet this snake was longer than I am tall and thicker in girth than my arm. I adore the pattern of scales on its head.

Monacled Cobra, Albino Style
Monacled Cobra, Albino Style

Maybe this one, which was considerably smaller than the King Cobra the way Earth is considerably smaller than the Sun, is more fitting for the mongoose-versus-Cobra dichotomy?

Crocodile Monitor: NOT a crocodilian.
Crocodile Monitor: NOT a crocodilian.

I have this really bad habit at zoos of correcting people when they ID things wrong (this probably makes me a jackass of the first order). This is not a Crocodile. I know the sign has the word Crocodile on it, but keep reading just one more word and you’ll get it. This is a monitor lizard. Monitor lizards are not crocodiles.

Who names these things anyway?

The Rhino Viper is watching me.
The Rhino Viper is watching me.

Wouldn't this make an awesome bracelet?
Wouldn’t this make an awesome bracelet?

I’m trying to figure out how to mimic those two for jewelry usage as we speak.

Frilled Lizard is ready for his close up.
Frilled Lizard is ready for his close up.

Look at that gorgeous texture!

I am green.
I am green.

Skink!
Skink!

This particular species is sometimes referred to as a “Pinecone Skink”, for obvious reason.

Fish are hard to photograph.  Hold still, you bastards!
Fish are hard to photograph. Hold still, you bastards!

This isn’t exactly an ooo-and-ahh-worthy picture, but the color combination on that fish got my little crafter’s brain ticking, very much like the peacocks did.

<img src="http://pics.livejournal.com/corvustristis/pic/000f14kr/s320x240" alt="
<3 Mudskippers

We used to have these in the Seychelles. I’d always chase them back into the water, and then (inspired) ask religious authorities uncomfortable questions about walking and/or air breathing fish.

Some form of pipefish.
Some form of pipefish.

Komodo!
Komodo!

Recently, an interesting factoid re: the Komodo Dragon has come to light in a rather startling fashion for those who care for the big lizards.

The Dragon says
The Dragon says ‘Sup?’

It turns out they are one of many parthenogenic reptiles- that is, they don’t require males for reproduction. While discussing this discovery with random strangers as I am wont to do, I taught a toddler to say “parthenogenic”- it must have been one of her first few hundred words. I’m proud of myself. (I’m also very, very proud of that picture.)

Mama Komodo Dragon
Mama Komodo Dragon

A Cold-Blooded Portrait
A Cold-Blooded Portrait

Then I left behind the tropics, and thus my deep fascination with reptillian textures. Next up:

Is it a Zoo without Reticulated Giraffe?
Is it a Zoo without Reticulated Giraffe?

I’m pretty sure the only time I’ve seen a non-Reticulated Giraffe in a zoo was in San Diego (they keep a nice number of Masai Giraffe in both the Zoo and the Wild Animal Park).

Walking Away
Walking Away

This could be because the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo, an hour to the south, breeds Reticulated Giraffe like rabbits and thus keeps all nearby zoos well-supplied. I volunteered at the CM Zoo as a kid, which is probably where I got my tendency to correct mis-identifiers of animals, and my stunning accuracy re: identifying any zoo animal, down to subspecies, at fifty paces. Heck, twice yesterday I knew more random factoids about particular species than the zoo employees- once with the parthenogenic Dragons, and again with the genetically chimeric nature of Tamarins (which is really quite fascinating- remind me to tell you about it sometime).

What?  No animal?  Did someone steal my camera?
What? No animal? Did someone steal my camera?

A breather: light and flora.

Okapi.
Okapi.

I did a report on the Okapi and Giraffe in elementary school. The crowning piece in the display was a paper-mache giraffe as tall as I was, named “Mabel”. My mom helped a lot with that one- a good indicator of where my artistic side sprung from.

The Congo Unicorn
The Congo Unicorn

I consider this picture another one of the really good shots of the trip.

Okapi says
Okapi says ‘No more posing for you.’

Bongo!  The antelope, not the drum.
Bongo! The antelope, not the drum.

Note: this is, I’m assuming, the mother of the little critter resting on the ground. I assume this because the bigger animal wandered across the enclosure, and the moment the young one woke up enough to realize he was alone, he lit out like all the hounds of hell were at his hooves:

Little Bongo Hauls Ass
Little Bongo Hauls Arse

Bustard!
You Bustard!

I’m still juvenile enough to find that name funny. Next thing you know I’ll be giggling at “Naked Mole Rat”.

Musk Ox
Musk Ox

I love his bright pink tounge against all that brown fur.

I see all that and I think
I see all that and I think ‘yarn!’

Does anything say Spring quite like a musk ox molt? I think not! Apparantly, they produce some serioiusly impressive fiber-age. I’d love to knit something out of Musk Ox just for the joy of telling people what my sweater/jacket/etc is made of.

A Conference of Rhinos
A Conference of Rhinos

He's not dead, honest.
He’s not dead, honest.

My favorite rhino picture ever captured by mine own hand is this one, snapped a few years back at the spectacular San Diego Zoo.

Bothering the local fauna.
Bothering the local fauna.

At the zoo, I do not only take pictures of the animals in enclosures and cages, oh no. I’m perfectly happy to harass the local critters (humans included) as well.

Gosling.
Gosling.

You should have seen how angry one of the parental geese got when I kneeled down to take this shot. I retreated quickly, as I didn’t mean to be intrusive. Of course, some child had to give chase to the poor family three seconds later.

Malay Tapir
Malay Tapir

I’m always suprised by how big these particular tapirs are in person. They’re so little and delicate as babies.

Asian Elephant
Asian Elephant

Asian Elephant: A Profile Shot
Asian Elephant: A Profile Shot

Zee Mascot!
Zee Mascot!

In high school, I was a Rampart Ram. Now I’m a CSU Ram. I can’t escape!

Mountain Goat
Climber-of-Mountains

Dall's Sheep: Go Rams!
Dall’s Sheep: Go Rams!

More Sheep
More Sheep

I love those horns
I love those horns

The Little One
The Little One

The kid of the group made his top-of-the-enclosure debut right as I was walking away. All at once, everyone: “Awwww.”

White Pelican
White Pelican

Humbolt Penguin
Humbolt Penguin

This picture would have been great if that damn kid could keep his arm out of the way.
This picture would have been great if that damn kid had kept his arm to himself.

I’m actually great with kids at the zoo, if the followings I tend to gather are any indication. I can answer their questions easier than their parents (most of the time), I tend to be very good not only at playing spot-the-animal, but in effectively communicating where to look, the awe with which I view said animals could be described by mediocre minds as “child-like”, and I don’t talk down to them (if teaching a barely-walking blond the word “parthenogenic” is any indicator).

The kid whose blurry arm mars the side of this shot, hoewever, was an unsupervised pain who knew I was taking a picture and kept trying to grab the penguins every time they swam near anyway. Kid: the “NO TOUCHIE” signs are everywhere. Don’t be that way.

Afternoon Swim
Afternoon Swim

Coatimundi!
Coatimundi!

A raccoon-relative, the Coati is one of my favorites. Besides being an awesome animal, the name is hugely fun to say. Try it: Coati. Coatimundi. See?

Coati on the Move
Coati on the Move

Bears, oh my!

Sunning the Belly
Sunning the Belly

Grizzly
Grizzly

Don't you just want to bury your face in his fur?
Don’t you just want to bury your face in his fur?

Problem is, if you did that, you wouldn't have a face for long.
Problem is, if you did that, you wouldn’t have a face for long.

Ah well. Gorgeous anyway.
Ah well. Gorgeous anyway.

I seem to be running out of chatty-ness. This is probably a relief for anyone reading.

Giant Anteater
Giant Anteater

Sculpture
Sculpture

Next subject: Primates!

Up goes the Monkey
Up goes the Monkey

Primate Pow-wow
Primate Pow-wow

They look quite conspiratorial.

The close up
The close up

This is another picture I’m quite proud of.

More sunning of the belly, by a Red Ruffed Lemur
More sunning of the belly, by a Red Ruffed Lemur

Monkey Bitch-Slap!
Monkey Bitch-Slap!

The picture is blurry because I had to move fast, but I think the action is still great. Monkey #1 has food. Monkey #2 wants food. Monkey #2 totally bitch-slaps Monkey #1 and runs away with said food. Pwned!

Guneon
Guneon

This particular beastie is ex-bush meat, and apparantly has issues with men. He’d get real belligerent (flashing those bright eyelids, banging on the glass) any time a guy ventured near, then settle down when they moved away.

Mmm, tasty foot.
Mmm, tasty foot.

Two of a Kind
Two of a Kind

You dead yet? Don’t worry, we’re almost through- not by my choice (I could do this all day, to many people’s dismay) but because, having decided to go to the zoo rather spontaneously, my camera battery wasn’t fully charged and thus died with an hour or two left in the day. Sad, too- I missed a lot of great shots of lions, cheetahs, and an adorable baby hyena (among other things). I suppose I’ll just have to go back and then subject you, dear readers, to another barrage of zoo-pictures.

I see said the Orangutan
I see said the Orangutan

And this is where my camera died.  Boo.
And this is where my camera died. Boo.

And before I got any good human pictures too! Alas.

Wow, that was a lot of pictures. I’d like to think a few of them were worth viewing, however.

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