Thursday, September 29, 2011

Getting Out of the House - Day 1

I took a couple days off. Originally, Carole was coming back for her class reunion but that didn't work. I thought about just not taking time off, but decided I was worth a couple of days. Today is day 1 and, this morning, I went to the zoo.

I drove into the city and went to the Lincoln Park Zoo. I can't remember the last time I was there. I'm pretty sure this entry archway didn't exist.

The zoo is free. Parking is not. I managed to scrape together the money for parking. I looked into going to the Brookfield Zoo which is closer to me, but it would have cost me $5 more.

It's a gray, overcast day and, as I write this, raining. The LPZ is compact, which is another reason I chose to go here. Brookfield is a lot more walking and that tipped the scales in favor of the LPZ.

They have done a lot of upgrading to buildings since I was last here. For the most part, the animals are still the same. The first animals you have the potential to see when you walk in from the east entrance are the big cats.

The tiger was a bit cooperative. He was getting a drink from his small water pool when I arrived. Then he went around the perimeter of the enclosure a couple of times before jumping down into the "moat" that's between the main area and the wall where visitors are. That's grass covered on the bottom. There, he plopped down and fell asleep. He was still there 90 minutes later when I passed by on my way out.

The lions were asleep. The jaguar was pacing in a back corner where photos wouldn't be good and the puma's cage is not very photogenic. There were a couple of long legged savanna cats pacing in their cage inside. Animals are as adaptable as people, but it's hard to see an animal pacing back and forth and not wonder if there is something that could be done to engage them more. I wondered if the big cats are ever allowed the opportunity to use those hunting skills they have. Is there ever a time when they are given live prey? Probably not because you don't ever want them associating a keeper with food. So, I wonder how they might be allowed to be cats.

From there, I passed by the Mexican wolves and went into the bird building. The limitations of my camera became clear at this point. It's fine for me. It's small and I can have it with me all the time for those incidents where you think, "If I only had a camera." But it's not "fast" and, when you're in low light situations where a flash is not a good idea, trying to get a clear shot is impossible.

The bird to the right, a golden breasted starling, was singing right next to the path through the aviary. I tried everything, including setting the camera on the fence posts, to get a clear shot. This one is the best. I really don't want to tote around a big camera with a multitude of lenses. I have an SLR that is in need of some cleaning and minor repair if I ever wanted to go that route again. This was one time I kind of wished I had a better camera. The bird didn't seem to mind my repeated attempts to hold the camera still. It might not have minded the flash, but I wasn't going to try it.

The polar bear was asleep. LPZ has Andean and Sun bears and they were asleep. The rhinos were at the back of their enclosure. LPZ gave away their elephants several years ago. Their giraffes were out. The penguins were getting fed. It was too dark in the reptile and small mammal house to get good photographs, so I walked across a bridge, turned right and there were the flamingos.

This flock is kind of an institution at the zoo. Although the zoo was started with a couple of swans and then a bear cub, back in 1868, flamingos have been at the zoo since the 1900's. These are Chilean flamingos and they are noisy. There is a nice flock of about two dozen and they seemed to be having some rather loud arguments. 

From here, I wandered over to the great ape house. I remember when it was a circular facility with the apes and the staff in the center and a two tier walk way around the outside. The facility was divided into quarters. 

This building is so much better. There is a large outdoor yard area as well as enlarged interior room with all sorts of climbing equipment, nooks and crannies where apes can go to see and be seen. They had been fed about 10 minutes before I showed up so they were cleaning up the leftovers. This guy couldn't be seen from the outside, although he was outside, so I had to shoot him through the window of the building looking out. It's a grand facility and much better than the old building it replaced. 
At this point, my knees were telling me it was time to go home. I wandered through the small monkey house on my way back to the car. I have to say, I am extremely grateful for handicap ramps. There were no steps, just gently undulating pathways. As I was leaving, it started to rain. It was nice and mild at the zoo, but I drove through some heavier rains coming home. It was nice for me to get out and get moving a little. I probably could stand a nap now. 

On the way out was this little guy. He had the whole enclosure to himself. 

Beverage: Apple cider tea


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