urbpan: (dandelion)
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Where were we? Oh yes, the 98 meter pyramid on the bank of the Mississippi in the city of Memphis Tennessee. It's a sporting goods store.

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urbpan: (dandelion)
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This black rat snake was showing off its extraordinary climbing ability.

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I accompanied Alexis at one of her pet-sitting visits. I was charmed by this fresh water shrimp.

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Another tank hosted a bevy of fancy guppies.
urbpan: (dandelion)
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Here's our male pygmy hippo, Inocencio, swimming by the Hippo Theater window. FYI the last few pics were originally posted on instagram. If you're interested, I'm @urbpan there too.
urbpan: (dandelion)
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Duck duck duck duck hey you gonna finish that?

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Meet Eva, a 53 year old retired circus hippo.

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urbpan: (dandelion)
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Orlando Science Center is not too different from the Boston Museum of Science where I got my start in animal care. They have a lot more alligators though.

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The first time you see a white ibis in Florida it's shocking and magical--aren't they African animals? Didn't the ancient Egyptians mummify them by the million? Then you see a flock of 20 in a drainage ditch. Then you realize you're seeing them basically anywhere there's water. Then, if you're me, you hand-feed them cat food at the zoo.

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After some lunch we went looking for more hiking trails. We were traveling on the Tamiami Trail between Ochopee and Naples, but damned if I can find this boardwalk on google maps. There was a small Native American gift shop, "closed due to death in the family," by the trailhead. We encountered several birders on our way.

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urbpan: (dandelion)
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As it so happens a naturalist friend of mine was also in Florida that week visiting relatives. We live just a few miles from each other but hadn't managed to get together since the April Urban Nature Walk. We were each on opposite sides of South Florida so she suggested we meet up in the middle, at Big Cypress National Preserve. This picture is taken at the Oasis Visitor Center. Theres a wide canal between the road and the building, with a nice boardwalk and fence. Down in the canal there are many many alligators.

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Sweatin' on July seventh. The heat wave lasted 5 days. Not bad! Longest July heatwave since 1990.
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A lot of people--unless they have little kids--don't go to the zoo when they go on vacation. I'm really glad we did. I definitely recommend the Los Angeles Zoo if you like venomous snakes. I saw so many hot snakes that I completely lost track of what the species were.

more Zoo! )
urbpan: (dandelion)
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Okay! So I'm working here with the iPod and the new computer (which won't let me use photoshop). Tried to use iPhoto, ended up dragging the photos from iPhoto onto the desktop then uploaded them from there directly to LJ. I'll start using a real camera soon, I promise. Anyway, this is Ussuri, the Amur leopard.

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YUM CRICKETS.


Later that night the zookeepers watched Tremors! We watch movies in the Hippo Theater, which has a huge fish tank along the back wall. We had cookies and hot chocolate, not crickets.
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I received a donation for AAZK with this note: "I am fond of elephants, giraffes, rhinos, and hippos." Who isn't? Our giraffes are a big hit with our guests, impressive beasts that they are. They are our largest animals at the zoos, with only the Bactrian camels coming close to the same size. Unfortunately, we don't have a winter exhibit for them, and they are very sensitive to cold temperatures. Fortunately, I do have cause to go into the giraffe barn every now and then! Here's Jana, our female Masai giraffe.



Isn't she pretty?

But what about the hippo? In our Tropical Forest exhibit, we have a pygmy hippo. Her name is Cleopatra, and she is about the size of an adult pig. The more familiar Nile hippo is a much larger creature--we don't have any of those. Pygmy hippos are from the dense rain forests of Liberia in West Africa where they do most of their feeding at night, on land. Cleo is exhibited with a pair of Rüppell's Griffin Vultures, beautiful carrion birds that hold the record for highest recorded altitude of any bird.
See Cleo back here )

Thanks for your donation, Amanda! I'll be sending the stickers later on.

If you have a request for a zoo animal you would like me to photograph, simply click the button and donate $5.00 to the New England Chapter of the American Association of Zoo Keepers! Thanks!







Still to come: Lemurs using their hammock.
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Goldfish in an artificial pond at Stone Zoo.

And while at Stone Zoo, I paid a visit to the Panamanian Golden Frogs, who were exhibiting some breeding behavior. I couldn't decide which of these photos was better so I used them both.



When I took care of these frogs in quarantine, I called them "the last frogs on earth." It's not totally accurate; for one thing, they are more toads than frogs. But frog researchers like my boss have taken all the Panamanian Golden Frogs they were able to capture into captivity, to protect them from the Chytrid fungus disease. My zoo has a few more than a dozen. There are only a few hundred left known to exist. I think Houston Zoo has most of the ones in North America. The frogs above are in "amplexus," one of my favorite words.
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Farrar Pond is in the Mount Misery conservation land in Lincoln, Massachusetts. Locals pronounce it "Farrah Pond," like "Farrah Fawcett." It's once of the few places around I know of that has off-leash dog areas that are officially sanctioned. There's a surprising amount of wildlife in this place, about 20 miles west of Boston.

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