In honor of tigers

Today is International Tiger Day, so I’m revisiting some Amur tigers I’ve been lucky enough to see. There aren’t many tigers left in the wild. I’ve seen estimates of anywhere from 3,000 to 3,200.

These Amur tigers are the largest subspecies. Critically endangered, they are native to eastern Russia, northeastern China and northern Korea. There were three females at Milwaukee County Zoo when I stopped by; they’ve since added a fourth, a male. The Milwaukee County Zoo participates in animal conservation and breeding programs through the Association of Zoos and Aquariums.

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I couldn’t keep my eyes off this beauty.
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This is about as close to a tiger as I’ll probably ever get.

The Saint Louis Zoo also has Amur (Siberian) tigers, and this zoo also participates in conservation and breeding programs to help ensure the survival of this majestic species. According to one of their zoo managers, as of last year there were just 450 Amur tigers left in the wild – at most.

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After mulling over the idea, this tiger decided to take a bath.

It saddens me a bit to see these big cats, who roam thousands of miles in the wild, in enclosed parks, but I am also grateful that responsible zoos are doing their best to not only care for these animals, but trying to help ensure their survival. I want there to always be tigers.

Brevard Zoo, Take Three

The first thing you notice when you enter the Brevard Zoo in Melbourne, Fla., is its jungle-like atmosphere. It’s full of trees and vines, and the heat and humidity common to Florida only add to the effect.

I wrote previously about Brevard Zoo’s big cats, and meerkats, but I was fortunate enough to see some interesting birds in and around the foliage, as well.

Some were water birds, like the sandhill cranes, and the roseate spoonbills.

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Roseate spoonbills look like a cross between a pelican and a flamingo.

Other large birds, like these eagles, and the vultures, prefer to hunt from the sky.

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Eagle and immature eagle. Did not manage to see the other parent.
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This king vulture, on the right, struck a pose while trying to keep cool.

You can pay extra to feed the smaller birds, or walk through the aviary to see what other birds you can find.

Art at the park

I live nowhere near St. Louis, Mo., but if I did, I’d spend much of my free time at Forest Park. In my two trips to the Gateway to the West, I only managed to discover a taste of what the nearly 1,400-acre park has to offer.

In addition to the St. Louis Zoo, the park supports a number of open spaces. Take a walk around the Emerson Grand Basin and head up the hill to the Saint Louis Art Museum.

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These lovely fountains are just one of the picturesque views in Forest Park.

The art museum sits atop Art Hill, and is worth walking by, even if you don’t have time to stop inside.

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The Saint Louis Art Museum (back view). The hill is larger than it appears.

A large, bronze statue of Saint Louis adorns the patio and looks over a collection of lakes and several fanciful bridges.

The art museum itself contains more than 33,000 objects from ancient Egypt to the present. If you are short on time, find a map and hit the highlights.

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A Van Gogh, housed in the Saint Louis Art Museum.
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One of the Egyptian pieces.

If you manage to stop by the museum in the evening, take a second to check out the architecture.  Dusk transforms the museum into a piece of artwork itself.

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An evening view of the north side of the art museum.