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.
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.
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.
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.