October 23, 2008

went pumpkin patching at the roloff family farm this weekend. this farm is run by the family from that tv show little people, big world. it was crowded and though the pumpkins did look cool (various stages of green/orange) in retrospect they were expensive. but it was fun and there were all these hilarious hand painted signs with the pumpkins saying funny stuff and pathetically begging you the visitor to pick them. this was our favorite.




then there was this “zootica” part, which was basically a little shed with a tortoise and this little “chocolate” skunk named dagwood out front.



some guinea pigs


sleeping ferrets


this jumpy lizard


then as we were leaving this woman was walking around with two pythons on her. she was talking about them and i touched them. she was barely paying attention to them, and one was very curious about all the small child faces. this was going on behind the woman’s back.


my pumpkin cost $4.20. not sure what to carve.


westward expansion

October 1, 2008

here are some things i saw during my drive out to portland from ny. in chronological order:

this guy was driving a 18 wheeler


fast forward all the way to the BADLANDS


saw some tracks on the hills, then rounded a bend and saw these! almost wrecked the van pulling over.


my first wild prairie dog town, complete with hunting hawk


normally i’m not into the “jackelope”, but this one was next level. the “flying jackelope” at wall drug.


many many pronghorns all over the landscape.

i love the prospect park zoo. the discovery trail is one of my favorite things in brooklyn.


see you later kangaroos


so long pallas cats and your adorable faces


and they finally moved the great horned owl into a place where you can see it. it used to be hidden behind the red-tailed hawk on the discovery trail, now he’s in the animal lifestyles building where the little screech owls used to be.

here are some pictures from my last visits to the ny zoos. i left new york a few days ago, i’m moving out to portland oregon. i will miss all these animals greatly.

the bronx zoo:


andean condor ripping apart a rabbit



matschie’s tree kangaroo eating a carrot.


small clawed otter family


first time ever seeing the tapir in the water.


tapir being groomed by the gibbons again.


some zoo babies, rhim gazelle


and sea lion. this little guy/gal is such a rambunctious rascal. and he makes the cutest noises mimicking the adults.


the always serene baboon reserve.


one of my absolute favorite things at the BZ is the skyfari.


the lioness was out and about, which is not something i’ve seen often. usually i just
hear her in the night quarters.


new black lemurs in the children’s zoo where the ring-tails used to be.


fennec foxes


rowdy goats


jess in the congo gorilla forest


wolf’s monkey


in the new madagascar exhibit, coquerel’s sifaka


nile crocodiles


day gecko


ring-tailed lemurs. this is a great looking habitat for them. lots of things to explore, climb on and
scent mark.


very sleek and active ring-tailed mongoose


finally, after 4 or 5 visits i get a good solid look at the fossas. they were out and about and interacting with each other. mother and daughter.

(i need to figure out how to mute the audio on these videos)

a total dream come true.


red ruffed lemurs chillin


at the world of birds i LOVE the bee-eater buffet that happens at 2:45pm. some keepers are more theatrical and informative than others.


this guy was singing to his lady friend but people kept interrupting him and mocking him. other people are the worst part of going to the zoo. but his song is still great.


and finally, before i left the BZ i needed to try to get some pictures of the cloud rats in the world of darkness. these guys are so little known and elusive. they are barely mentioned in any of the animal books i own and there aren’t any really good pictures online. there are at least five of them in the WOD and they were being very active while i was there.


my zoo membership doesn’t run out until the end of november, so hopefully i can come back soon. i didn’t get to make it to the aquarium or the queens zoo before i left.

august drawings

August 26, 2008

so as i’m about to leave nyc for a while, i’m scrambling to try to make drawings of all the animals i’ve spent so much time with in the past year. here are some drawings i’ve made in the past few weeks.

mostly everyone likes to just sleep. and i don’t mind at all because then they are still and i can draw them. like these cougars at the oregon zoo. 


red-ruffed lemurs in the new bronx madagascar exhibit.


pablo the tamandua from the central park zoo on his new perch.


one of the red pandas at the central park zoo


the mother gibbon at the bronx zoo’s jungleworld, i have her name written down somewhere…


two gray titi monkey’s in the bronx zoo’s primate house.


a pygmy marmoset scratches it’s little leg at the woodland park zoo, seattle.


a turkey vulture at the woodland park zoo


although my favorite porcupines are the one’s at the prospect park zoo, this guy was hunkered down in a corner and only i could see him while a keeper cleaned his enclosure. woodland park zoo.


a common wallaroo and a kookaburra from the woodland park zoo.


this spectacled owl was being harassed by rowdy crows at the woodland park zoo.


and here are some animals i haven’t seen yet, but wished i had slash hope to in the near future.

a great grey owl


jamaican fruit bat


yellow handed titi monkey


big-eared bat


all these are available to a good home, if you like one get in touch, shawncreeden (a) gmail

point defiance

August 10, 2008

went to the point defiance zoo and aquarium in tacoma, washington with basically my whole family. mom, two older sisters, their husbands and all the little ones (three nephews and one niece). it was a beautiful hot day. i rushed right away down to the rocky shores area to see the walruses and the beluga training session.



they have three walruses, that’s ET up there, 3,300 lbs. then there’s joan, 1400 lbs, and basilla, 1800 lbs. here’s all them




then it’s beluga time!




they have 4 sea otters, two of which were rescued from the exxon valdez oil spill! they are 20 years old. those are the whitish ones, and they liked to hang out together. 






and keep your eyes peeled at about 6 seconds into this video of the brown guys, too cute.



then i met back up with my family by the polar bears. PD has an arctic fox which i was psyched to see but it wasn’t on display that day. but here are some pics of the polar bears.






then we walked back through the rocky shores with the kids. they were making drawings and taking notes just like their uncle shawn. 






a main feature of the zoo landscape is this huge amphitheater where they have engaging little animal theatrics for the children. this was probably the best of these type of shows i’ve ever seen. there is a huge rock wall and the actors are repelling down it and birds of prey are swooping around and porcupines are scampering across the stage. it was good, but jackson wasn’t all that interested in that so we pressed on and happened upon this little, half-blind screech owl.



then we went into the aquarium building. there was some ok stuff. a big tank in the middle with some very active fish. also a great exhibit on seahorses. i saw a leafy sea dragon for the first time, but those things are so small and you couldn’t really get close because they were really sensitive to people banging on the glass and there were barriers. so i took the usual, predictably sweet looking moonjellies shot.



there was also a pretty substancial touch pool laboratory in the aquarium, but it was so packed with kids and i just couldn’t deal. 


i don’t know what was up with this elephant. she just stood there with her head against the wall. 

next, i saw what was (i think) a first for me. a recent trend in zoo design is the idea of rotational exhibits. i first read about this practice in Vicki Croke’s wonderful book The Modern Ark. in a rotational exhibit, a number of different animals, of the same or different species (i.e. predators and prey from the same ecosystem), are randomly rotated through a series of exhibition spaces at different times. so say one day you might see a gazelle in exhibit A and a lion in exhibit B and a zebra in exhibit C, then the next day or even later that afternoon they would be switched all around. the idea is that it provides an environment that is stimulating in similar ways as the animals natural habitat, and also gives each individual animals access to more space than it would have otherwise. in mixed species rotations there is no danger to the herbivorous species, the spaces are never shared at the same moment, but all the animals get the chance to exercise natural behaviors and stay mentally alert. predators get to sniff around and practice tracking and stalking. 

here’s a diagram by jon coe, though the exhibits need not all be adjacent. 



so the PD zoo has an area like this. it’s called the asian forest sanctuary. there are sumatran tigers, malaysian tapirs, white-cheeked gibbons, siamangs, small clawed otters, lowland anoas and crested porcupines (the one animal i didn’t see). reviews of the habitats seem to be mixed, but i was impressed and excited to see those idaes at work. 








slowly making our way out, again random owl encounter! stunning barn owl



there was a keeper about to give a little chat about three banded armadillos, she put this guy on the ground and he kept taking off down the hill. such a speedy little guy. and when she would come to get him he would attack her shoes. 





then while everyone was making their way to the exit i ran down to see the red wolves who i had missed earlier. they were hanging back, and the docent said the zoo had just received a substantial amount of money to renovate the wolf habitat. i’ll be excited to come back when that is done. 



and much to my delight around the corner from the wolves was an eagle owl! i don’t think i’ve ever seen one in person before. it was sleeping.



then there were some lemurs just before i left.



look at this guy’s tongue.



i was so dehydrated i got a headache, but it was a great day. the end.

pablo’s place

August 8, 2008


pablo, the tamandua who lives at the central park zoo just got an upgrade to some new living quarters. he’s taken over what i think used to be a bird or small primate habitat at the entrance to the rainforest building. today is the 20th anniversary of the NYZS taking control of the central park zoo, and this is pablo’s first day in the new digs. the docent said he was pretty active this morning checking things out, but by the time i got there he was comfortably settled atop the highest point in the joint. 



so i walked around for a little while, things are pretty lush in the rainforest, hard to see things. but i did see these three guys all sitting together. 


time for a close up.



saw one of the snow monkey’s catch a dragonfly and eat it. red panda strolling about, penguins being fed. then i stopped back by pablo before i left. i ended up sitting there watching him for an hour and a half and about 45 minutes in he got up to stretch his legs before curling back up for good. 



July 14, 2008


melinda and i finished our book. it’s taken over 2.5 years and here it is. info:

collaborative drawings with melinda melmoth
32 pages
full color, digital print, staple bound

buy it here!

some more sample pages



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

oregon zoo

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.