I’ve never spent much time watching or learning about monkeys or apes. The first fact I remember learning about either was that spider monkeys bite (according to the neighbor down the street, who was happy to show hers off, as long as you didn’t touch the cage).
But lately I’ve paid more attention, and a recent stop at the Greenville Zoo, I stopped to watch several. The orangutan curled up in a blanket was adorable. I’ve seen them swinging by their great, orange, hairy arms before, but not snuggling like a toddler getting ready for a nap.
The red-tailed, or Schmidt’s guenon was, for me, something new, and I didn’t even notice its famous long tail. I was instead drawn to its colorful face.
The black and white ruffed lemurs were acrobatic, and excitable, at least when it came to dinner time.
And, I stopped to watch some gibbons, who, I learned are a noisy lot, too. Their calls can be heard two miles away.
There’s really no rhyme or reason when I visit a zoo. I may have a certain animal in mind I want to see; if it’s been more than a few months since I’ve seen a big cat I may head in that direction first, but mostly, I meander around and stop whenever something catches my attention.
I was moseying along at the Greenville Zoo last month when I spotted a beautiful Masai giraffe. Actually, there were three, but one was really tall and sort of wandering out by himself, so I stopped. I looked. And he looked at me.
I looked some more. And so did he.
We chatted. Or I did. I think he asked me for some food. In his own way.
I told him he was beautiful, and I would love to feed him, but it was against the rules.
He grew bored after a while, and walked away. I enjoyed our chat, and reluctantly, got ready to move on. But not before another picture or two.
I noticed the name of the male giraffe on a sign as I left, so I assumed it was Walter. I posted some pictures of him on Instagram and a zoo page I follow. But on reviewing the zoo website, I found that Walter, for breeding purposes, had moved on to another zoo. This, apparently, was Miles, who had been hand-reared before relocating to Greenville. That accounts for his open manner, I think.
Walter, I apologize. And Miles, I hope we meet again.
If it weren’t for these pesky allergies, I think I’d run away and join the zoo. Let me rephrase that. Work at the zoo. There’s not much I’d rather do than spend hours at the zoo watching and learning about all the animals.
While in an ideal world we’d actually live in harmony with all the animals nature has to offer, zoos do offer glimpses of creatures we may never otherwise see, and in some cases, cooperative breeding programs work hard to help keep endangered species from dying out.
The latest zoo to capture my attention was the Greenville Zoo in South Carolina. It’s not a large zoo, and one drawback to taking photos is nearly all the animals are in cages of some sort, so it’s hard to get a clear view without some kind of distortion. But I managed to spend almost three hours trying!
The Greenville Zoo has several big cats including two ocelots, Oz and Evita. Wild ocelots are found in Central and South America, although they have also been spotted in parts of Arizona and Texas. Like all big cats, they are quite beautiful.
I discovered Amur leopards only recently, while visiting another zoo. Amur leopards are the most endangered big cats. It is estimated there are only about 70 left in the wild, which is a tragedy. The few that are left are in Russia and northeast China.
The zoo does have lions, but I was unable to get good pictures of those.
There were many more animals to see at the Greenville Zoo, including a very inquisitive giraffe. More posts coming soon.
You don’t have to travel far to find scenes worthy of a photograph. Bill and I had some free time this week, and found we were overdue for a visit to Umstead State Park. I have some vivid memories of that place, mostly involving a copperhead and a “death march” I took with him a few years back, but that is another story.
This time, I had a new camera in hand, and we searched out photo opportunities.
December is not the most colorful time of year in Raleigh. I think we’ve had a late fall; still, most of the leaves have turned and nearly all have fallen, but there are a few, colorful stragglers here and there.
We took off from the visitor’s station, which Bill warned was a bit of a walk to the main park, but I shrugged off his suggestion to drive in further and off we went.
I kept hearing birds I didn’t recognize, and managed to locate one with the zoom lens.
We walked on the road for a while, but the trails along the creeks offered the best views.
After 90 minutes or so of walking and stopping, we decided it was time to head back to civilization to find some lunch. But not before discovering a few more birds.
Another beauty perched above our heads. I’m not sure, because of the winter feathers, but I think it’s an American redstart. My first time seeing this bird, as well.
I’ve got four feeders set up around my house, but the birds have been scarce this fall. I’m not sure if it’s the location, the mild weather, or the number of hawks in the neighborhood. The squirrels are another story.
Quite recently, I’ve rediscovered mornings. Sleeping in used to be a cherished luxury. After my children were born, my body clock eventually adjusted to getting up early, and then my career took a detour. I started working evenings, not getting to bed until after midnight. So, again, I slept late, pretty much on a daily basis.
My new job has more regular, daytime hours, which I appreciate. But I still don’t get up and walk every morning as I’d like to. After a recent day-long drive back to West Virginia, my tight muscles were aching to stretch, and I was ready for a walk “around the hill.”
When I started out, it was just getting light. The birds – mostly robins – chirped greetings to each other. As the darkness lifted, and the sun peeked over the hills, my power walk became a quest to capture the sunrise.
I walked around the circle, catching glimpses of daybreak – and the mist. Stopping every few minutes, standing on tiptoe, I darted looks between houses and through the woods, trying not to alarm the neighbors.
The woods on this road were thick, so I hurried on, and remembered the nearby stub of a road that looks about level with the airport, which is on another hill, on the other side of the river. I might capture a good view there. I walked up and down that street a few times, looking for the right spot to snap a picture.
I must’ve hurried up and down that particular road three times looking for just the right scene, knowing my chance to capture the best colors was quickly fading.
I headed farther on down the hill, then, toward the playground, where our bus stop used to be. On the way down, I found the sun . . .
And, a little farther down, one of my favorite trees. Not quite all its leaves were gone . . .
Down and around I went, looking at the old neighborhood, remembering when. Then it was light, and time to head up one of the many, steep hills I used to dread walking up as a child. It’s funny how things change.