Saturday, September 18, 2010

The Zoo all for me!

When the Greater Cincinnati Environmental Educator Expo came around this year, I hopped on the bandwagon.  The council used the new education building at the Cincinnati Zoo, and after set-up we were free to roam the zoo at will for two hours.

I have never been to the zoo by myself.  No stroller?  No kids begging for stuff from the gift shop?  It was hard not to skip to my lou.

(I was hoping to see Thane.  We end up at the same events, but never seem to hook up.  Sigh....for a refresher course in "Thane and Me", see this post...found out that he was doing a talk in the room next to the expo, but I couldn't leave my table.)

What I did see were some cute/silly animal behaviors.  And some things that I have never been able to just stand and observe.

In the Discovery Forest, I always look for the Two-Toed Sloth.  And he is always in the same place.  Sleeping in his tree.  This makes me smile.
two toed sloth

There are two Laughing Kookaburras right outside the "Bird Building".  This one was so bright-eyed and curious....walked right up to the barricade to blink at me with those lovely slate eyes.  He made me smile.

Ever since I got to hear Kelly do her kookaburra impression, she is what I think of when I see a  kookaburra. 

The bird building is of course my favorite part of the zoo....full of feathered lovelies from all over the world.  From King Penguins to Whiskered Auklets to Rhinoceros Hornbills to Scarlet Ibis.
And this extremely friendly eider (don't know the species) who wanted to come and investigate me through the glass.  It made me smile.
the friendly eider

This black bear reminded me of this day at last year's New River Birding and Nature Festival. 
The floppy gap in his mouth made me smile.
sleeping black bear

The white lions were asleep too.
(The zoo's white lions are gifts from none other than Siegfried and Roy)
white lion
That pink house cats do the same thing.  Made me smile.

I got to pet this two year old alligator.  I didn't tell the handler that he felt like a purse.  That would have been tacky.
young alligator
His cool leathery skin made me smile.  And the fact that I was brave enough to do it.

This lemur was all like, "Meh."
Made me laugh.
ringtailed lemur is all like meh

A new exhibit, "Dragons", highlights the world's monitor lizards, from tiny Adobe Monitors to the ginormous Komodo Dragon.  This is the hind end...the end you want to see.
rear end of komodo dragon
 I just stood there and stared and stared at the massive amount of dragon flesh stretched out in there.

The Cat House (I always laugh when I say that) is another favorite.  Too bad the urine smell is so bad in the building....I wonder if they can do something about that.
Sand cat
Looking for all the world like a little domestic cat, this Sand Cat was taking a nap and making my heart do a little dance.  Check out that fur....strokable.

The Meerkat was showing me his brain, via his nostrils:

The Macaque exhibit is on an island in the middle of the zoo.  This one is preparing his "Hamlet" soliloquy.
Solemn macaque
Look at that face.  Hey, Creationists?  You honestly think we aren't related????

I think this one was burping.
Macaque says ahhh

I watched this one, alone and tucked into one of the rock crevices, for about five minutes.  He was just playing with his toes.   :)
Macaque playing with his toes

The last exhibit I visited before I had to hustle back to the expo was what I thought was the bald eagle eyrie.
Was I ever surprised to be confronted with an ANDEAN CONDOR.
Andean Condor1
With the largest wingspan of any land bird (3.2 meters....that's over 10 feet, y'all), and a body that weighs up to 31 pounds (THIRTY ONE!), it's a bird that inspires awe.  I stood there like an idiot for a few minutes, just staring.  I didn't know the zoo had acquired a condor.  This is a big deal.  This one is a female (See her red eyes?  Males have brown eyes.  And females lack the red comb of flesh above the beak that males have).
I had her all to myself.  She was fairly close, and we sized each other up...I was obviously boring, as she resumed preening.  All I could think was, "That is one BIG A$$ bird...."
A great day.