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?
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.
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.
Identifiably different from the Jaguar by its smaller size, generally lighter color, more compact spots, and totally different habitat.
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.
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).
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.
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.
I like African Crowned Crane. They’re gorgeous animals, and that feather explosion of a crest gives them so much photogenic character.
No, really. I like African Crowned Crane. You thought I was kidding, but I’m not.
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!
This gives me knitting ideas, actually.
No, that’s not a peacock. I thought you might want a little break. One more!
Enough of that.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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?
I’m trying to figure out how to mimic those two for jewelry usage as we speak.
Look at that gorgeous texture!
This particular species is sometimes referred to as a “Pinecone Skink”, for obvious reason.
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.
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.
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.
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.)
Then I left behind the tropics, and thus my deep fascination with reptillian textures. Next up:
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).
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).
A breather: light and flora.
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.
I consider this picture another one of the really good shots of the trip.
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:
I’m still juvenile enough to find that name funny. Next thing you know I’ll be giggling at “Naked Mole Rat”.
I love his bright pink tounge against all that brown fur.
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.
My favorite rhino picture ever captured by mine own hand is this one, snapped a few years back at the spectacular San Diego Zoo.
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.
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.
I’m always suprised by how big these particular tapirs are in person. They’re so little and delicate as babies.
The kid of the group made his top-of-the-enclosure debut right as I was walking away. All at once, everyone: “Awwww.”
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.
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?
Bears, oh my!
I seem to be running out of chatty-ness. This is probably a relief for anyone reading.
Next subject: Primates!
They look quite conspiratorial.
This is another picture I’m quite proud of.
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!
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.
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.
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.