July 14, 2008
July 13, 2008
July 10, 2008
While on tour i stopped by the Shedd Aquarium in Chicago with matt and donna. we didn’t have a lot of time, only about 45 minutes before they closed. i am (or rather, can be under circumstances like this) sort of a motivated and focused zoo-goer, and i knew a little about this aquarium, so i quickly figured out what i had to see.
first we went down to the Wild Reef. i LOVE coral and anemones are nice but i sort of flew through the first part of this section (which had some very cool little moments, like this little window on the ceiling that looks into one of the tanks) in order to get to the glass shark wall. five inches of glass floor to ceiling is all that separates you from the animals. this is a fantastic exhibit.
there are two dozen sharks in this tank, comprised of three species; sandbar, black tipped reef and zebra sharks, and lots of yellow fin jack and other schooling fish. it was one of those situations where you expect to see some carnage descend upon the tuna at any point. there were also a bunch of rays that you looked down upon through a glass walkway.
the Shedd seemed like a pretty comprehensive aquarium, with a whole bunch of exhibits about non-oceanic bodies of water. we didn’t have time to look through all these but i did stop to see the alligator snapping turtle which is one of my favorite turtles.
we had to press on to the “Oceanarium” where the first thing we saw was one of their five sea otters. he was diving and chewing on a clamshell. then he disappeared before i could take a photograph. the otter view area is ok. the otter is completely sealed off with glass, which i like less, but it had surface and underwater viewing which is good.
the amphitheater looked pretty amazing, and next time i’m in chicago i will have to come see a dolphin show. there were a bunch of pacific white-sided dolphins swimming around and possibly breaching and doing acrobatics (we watched from below the surface). i’m not sure when the last time i saw a dolphin was.
next was the penguin rookery. lots of gentoos and the sign said rockhoppers but i think i was too entertained by this one guy to really look too hard for them.
then the final coup de gras was the belugas. there were so many and they were huge.
there was a mom and new calf, miki, born in august of last year. there are some great pictures at the Shedd site. i could have watched these whales for at least another hour, but we got pushed towards the exit because it was closing time. i hate closing time at the zoo/aquarium, i hate when “rushed” is the feeling i leave with. it’s such a sour note. but all in all – Shedd gets a thumbs up.
donna’s house was home to some wild animals too. like this crawfish
and this adorable/hammy cat, dandelion
July 8, 2008
joel and i went to the Oregon Zoo last month. i bought a new camera but it had to charge so these pictures are from my old, broken digital, but i think they are not so bad.
the first section of the zoo we walked through was the “great northwest” exhibit, featuring wildlife from the area. this is the kind of thing i like. the path seems like it was just subtly carved from a beautiful, moss-laden coniferous forest.
elderly black bears, a sleeping lynx, bald eagles, otters, owls, spooning cougars, this part of the zoo ruled. the bald eagle canyon area was nice.
then we walked through the pacific coast section, where at a distance i could see the largest sea lion i have ever seen. it was a male steller sea lion and it looked huge. also saw this sea otter
the polar bear exhibit looked cool, there were areas for above and underwater viewing, but the bears were snoozing in a little cave in the back. there was a LOT of information about the effects of climate change on the arctic. definitely important and shocking. here’s joel and some bears
i’d never seen a sun bear in person before, and this one was great. active, walking around, saw that characteristic long tongue. lots of people shouting at him. i am constantly sickened by the lack of respect and common sense people show at zoos. this is that animal’s home. don’t bang on their windows or scream at them to look at you. such stupidity. eventually the bear retreated into it’s inside area.
there were a bunch of mandrills in their enclosure. one big male and a whole slew of smaller females. the male sat very calmly while everyone took picture. what a crazy looking animal.
the rest of the red ape reserve was sort of a bust. they were doing lots of renovations and some of the animals weren’t on display. no gibbons at all and the orangutans looked none too happy, maybe they were just relaxing.
there were three female asian elephants out and about, one was pregnant and the oldest was also the smallest.
a significant section of the park is undergoing renovations at the moment and will reopen july 19 as a predators of the serengeti exhibit. it will feature lions, cheetahs, wild dogs, mongoose, and lots of birds. i’m curious how the animals will adapt to the chilly, wet climate of portland.
the rest of the africa exhibit was nice. there were hippos, zebras, marabou storks, a nice enclosure with colobus monkeys and swamp monkeys, and a really active bat cave area. there were a ton of fruit bats, rodriguez flying foxes, egyptian fruit bats and straw colored fruit bats. i think the keepers had just put food in there before we arrived and so the bats were going nuts.
two of the last things we saw as we were leaving the zoo were a pair of the world’s rarest cats, an amur tiger and an amur leopard. this was cool because i had just read a lot about these two cats in David Quammen’s book, Monster of God. so it was cool to see them, but also made me think about how elusive and phantasmic they are in the wild.
there was also a dinosaur exhibit that we did not go see. when i come back here in september i will probably spend more time here and make some drawings.