Thursday, May 17, 2012

Another Beautiful Day at the Zoo

Twiga at "half-mast"

It's my birthday today (and what an incredibly unimportant number I've arrived at!) so I thought I would give myself a treat and not get too stressed out over a blog post. I'm going to be spending part of my day at the City Hall flag raising for the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia and then this evening will likely head off to The Keg for dinner with Sarah, although that last part is, as yet, undecided. After the big celebration of last year we're kind of keeping this birthday low-key.

On Tuesday I went to the Zoo, hoping to get some pictures to contribute to the project at What I really wanted to snap were some pictures of the penguin keepers feeding their charges; unfortunately the Zoo's website - which is surprisingly poorly maintained - listed the time incorrectly as 2PM. Also surprisingly, the map and information brochure I picked up at the gate (which has to be pre-printed so might be excused for being out-of-date) did not have the time wrong; the "Meet the Keepers" time for the penguin exhibit is 12:30 PM. It was especially disappointing for me because I was at the Zoo in plenty of time and in point of fact was specifically taking my time in getting to the penguin enclosure.

Petal enjoying her leisure time
In any event, it sure didn't ruin the day for me as I have spoken to the penguin keepers many times before. While it would have been nice to get the picture I wanted I was still able to get some others which I was pretty happy with - such as the giraffe at the top of this post and the hippo here on the left. I was a little late in getting my camera ready for the hippo picture; she had been pushing around the log which is visible in the photo and as I approached her pond she had opened her mouth fully as if to bite down on the log. By the time I had turned on and focused my camera, she had, sadly, closed her mouth again. I'm still pretty happy with the composition of this shot, though. It was quite nice to stand there for a while and watch her drift around in her pool for a few minutes, too. I really love the slow-moving animals at the Zoo the best, I think. They are very zen.

Hard-working bees

While I was walking along the African Savanna path a quick movement caught my eye in the enclosure the gazelles are normally in (but were nowhere to be found that day). I realized it was a groundhog and moved in for a closer look. While I was watching him zip around I became aware that the tree I was standing next to was a "hive" of activity, literally: there were a couple of dozen bees flitting about from bud to bud on its branches. I took a couple of pictures, but the bees are hard to spot. In the picture on the right, the busy fellow is very slightly below and left of the middle of the frame. In the picture below one is hovering just above the rope at the edge of the pathway. He did this quite a few times before I was finally able to centre him enough to take a good picture. I didn't go to the zoo expecting to take pictures of the local wildlife; it was just a nice bonus!

Apparently this one was the foreman

"Crate training" for the trip to California
I finally went to see the crates they are trying to get the elephants used to; I couldn't bring myself to do it before now. From my angle it looked like there were bars across the openings of these crates (and these pictures would seem to bear that out). I don't know how this is supposed to "train" the elephants when they can't go in and out of the crates. I'm sure there's a good explanation as I trust the keepers implicitly, but the whole affair is just muddier and muddier all the time. Now the "deadline" is the end of June; two councillors are supposed to be flying down to PAWS "on their own dime" sometime soon. I guess we'll hear more glowing reports in the weeks to come; frankly, the whole thing still smells bad to me.

I wanted to get some pictures of the new white lions as well, but they were off display on Tuesday. I arrived at their enclosure just after a Zoo staffer had placed a sign apologizing for this, but I couldn't really find out what was up; just some vague rumours about them being "sick". I can't confirm that anywhere, so I am assuming they were just rumours. The "regular" lions were in the enclosure but sound asleep.

I swung past the giraffes one last time after my ill-fated visits to see the penguin keeper and the white lions. Twiga had barely moved from the spot I had left her at; this goes back to my comment about the larger animals being very "zen". Here she is continuing to nibble slowly at the tender young grass shoots in her enclosure:

Grazin' in the Grass

From there I hopped on the Zoomobile for the trip back to the main gates so that I could see how things were progressing in the Eurasia part of the Zoo, currently closed to foot traffic while they prepare a new area for the Giant Pandas which will be here for five years beginning in 2013. Hopefully the Zoo's loss of accreditation over the whole elephant debacle won't negatively impact their arrival date or length of stay. If they arrive as scheduled, our memberships (Sarah's and mine) will still be valid and I'm really looking forward to that Members Only Preview.

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