Tag Archives: san diego zoo

Should we not release our dogs and cats back into the wild?

Opinion

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

I freely admit that I support zoos, aquariums, sanctuaries, and even SeaWorld to the max, 100%.

I even support circuses when it is done right, and I’ll define “done right” as using positive reinforcement rather than negative reinforcement.

To me, it’s pretty obvious when animals in our care have been trained with positive reinforcement.

It’s no different from you teaching a dog to roll over, sit, play dead, shake.

It’s done with treats, not whippings.

Perhaps that’s why I don’t like horse racing. I have been to the Del Mar Thoroughbred Races twice with a Photographer All Access pass. A total of twenty hours on two different occasions two years apart. I have yet to see anyone give a horse a treat. Rather, they prod them, poke them, whip them…….. Why are people not protesting that instead of SeaWorld? I don’t understand.

Do animals in our loving care remember those who care for them? I submit that they do:

Here’s another one:

Did zoos, aquariums, SeaWorld, and circuses abuse animals in the past? I believe they did. I believe taking animals out of the wild can, in many circumstances, be considered abuse.

However, I would rather have some of these animals in Zoos to save them than in the wild where they get slaughtered by poachers:

100,000 elephants killed by poachers in 3 years

I would also submit that in today’s world, if you were able to ask these animals if they would prefer to be in the wild struggling to find food each day, fighting for their lives each day…. or in a zoo or aquarium where they get love, attention, food, and medical care…. I believe I know the answer.

Without the leadership of the San Diego Zoo in getting other zoos and sanctuaries to sign on to its California Condor Conservation program, the California Condor would now be extinct. It actually was extinct in the wild as recently as 1987. Through the successful breeding programs of the San Diego and Los Angeles zoos, the California Condor was re-introduced to the wild beginning in 1991 in southern Utah, northern Arizona, central and southern California, and northern Baja California, Mexico. Here are a few of the California Condors at the San Diego Zoo:

Andean condor at the San Diego Zoo

California Condor at the San Diego Zoo

California Condor at the San Diego Zoo

The San Diego Zoo Safari Park has a northern white rhino as a resident. Northern white rhinos are functionally extinct, which means that the seven rhinos that exist in zoos throughout the world are beyond breeding age and that none exist in the wild. When these seven remaining rhinos die, there will be no more unless we can figure out cloning.

Northern white rhinoceros at the San Diego Zoo's Safari Park

Many times each year the Zoo and Safari Park announce the arrival of big babies: orangutans, elephants, giraffes, gazelles, monkeys, and gorillas. If not for the Zoo, I would never have had the opportunity to see orangutans, elephants, giraffes, gazelles, monkeys, and gorillas. And my annual membership supports the Zoo’s conservation and breeding programs, to ensure that the California Condor continues to exist in the wild.

The Zoo also re-introduces wildlife to other parts of the world when possible. Unfortunately, people in other countries don’t have the economy that we have in the United States, so they don’t mind slaughtering animals for food and other products.

I try to go once a week to SeaWorld, the Zoo, and Safari Park because one never knows what’s going on each week and which animals will be photogenic for me.

Without Zoos, many millions of people, including me, would never have had the opportunity to see these beautiful creatures:

Mom and baby gorilla at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Sumatran tiger at Tiger Trail at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Himalayan Monal at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Burmese Python at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Black mangabey at the San Diego Zoo

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Camel at the San Diego Zoo

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Giraffe at the San Diego Zoo

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Elephant at the San Diego Zoo

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Giant Panda at the San Diego Zoo May 2013

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Male lion at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Mama koala and her joey at the San Diego Zoo

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Forest buffalo at the San Diego Zoo

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Caracal at the San Diego Zoo

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Desert bighorn sheep at the San Diego Zoo

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Johnston's crocodiles at the San Diego Zoo

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Fishing cat at the San Diego Zoo

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Zebra at the San Diego Zoo

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Secretary Bird at the San Diego Zoo

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Cheetah at the San Diego Zoo

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Polar Bear at the San Diego Zoo

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Knobbed Hornbill at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Meerkat at the San Diego Zoo

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Red kangaroo at the San Diego Zoo

(Got the kangaroo in there for you, Laurie!)

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Flamingos at the San Diego Zoo

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Although I can cite no research to support me, I firmly believe that people who have visited a zoo, sanctuary, or aquarium are more likely to contribute to conservation efforts to save these beautiful creatures from extinction in the wild.

For those who want to release all of these creatures back into the wild, that cannot be done with many of them because they are injured and would not be able to survive. The two bald eagles at Safari Park come to mind, both injured in the wild and rescued, and both unable to fly.

Bald eagles

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

If we take this to its logical conclusion, then all dogs and cats should be released back into the wild. After all, both species adapt quite quickly to life in the wild, so why are we keeping them penned up in our homes and teaching them tricks? For our entertainment, pleasure, and companionship….

Spoiled dog

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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SNIPPETS (8-14-14)—It’s so confusing

Snippets

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

snip-pet: a small piece of something

Snippets: mini blog posts

SNIPPET 1

Julian convinced me NOT to publish two posts a day here at my Southern California blog. Instead, daily specials on Photographic Art by Russel Ray Photos at Fine Art America will be announced, more appropriately, at RusselRayPhotos.com. I know, it can get confusing, having a Russel Ray Photos blog at RusselRayPhotos2.com and a separate RusselRayPhotos.com web site. Notwithstanding the web site names, look at the title of the web sites and you’ll see

Russel Ray Photos (here)
Photographic Art by Russel Ray Photos (there)

For the best access to Daily Specials, though, follow us over at Photographic Art by Russel Ray Photos, too.

SNIPPET #2

When I went to the Los Angeles County Arboretum & Botanic Garden a year ago, I got so many pictures that it’s taken Julian and me this long to catalog everything. There is an outdoor dining area called Peacock Plaza. No one was dining there but I did get a (poor) picture of a peacock at Peacock Plaza.

Peacock Plaza

There is so much wrong with that picture. You know me, though. I never throw anything away. Comes from my wise old grandmother constantly saying, “What comes out of the camera is just the basics to start with.”

Note that the tile mosaic above the peacock has two peacocks in it. That mosaic is what I really wanted a picture of. I had another picture of the mosaic, and I tasked Julian with taking the two pictures and making a great piece of Photographic Art out of them. Here’s what he came up with:

Twin Peacocks

Julian keeps doing things that encourage me to keep him around….

SNIPPET #3

During the winter it will actually snow in the mountains of East San Diego County. Sadly, it only snowed there once this past winter. Global warming or something like that….

Here is another Photographic Art created by Julian of Lake Cuyamaca in the mountains covered with ice and snow:

Lake Cuyamaca

If you come to San Diego, try to make time in your schedule to go to the mountain community of Julian via Interstate 8 and State Highway 79. You will go right by Lake Cuyamaca, and it’s a great stopping point to relax and watch the wildlife—raptors, mountain lions, deer….

Remember to have an apple pie by the Julian Pie Company while you’re there. Best apple pie I have ever had. My favorite—ah who am I kidding? I like them all, but I do like the apple/peach crumb, apple/strawberry crumb, apple/raspberry crumb the best. That reminds me that I was going to make some peach cobbler last weekend…. Task for later today.

Google maps says Julian is about 71 miles from downtown San Diego, but the winding roads mean it will take you two hours to get there.

SNIPPET #4

I always feel so sad when I see fish out of water.

Fish Out Of Water

SNIPPET #5

My favorite tree in the world (not that I’ve seen every tree in the world, or even seen the world!) is the Century Oak at Texas A&M University. It’s now about 130 years old. I lost all of my pictures in the Great Hard Drive Crash of August 2005, but this tree at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park reminds me very much of it:

Beneath The Tree

SNIPPET #6

When you to the San Diego Zoo Safari Park, take lots of money with you. They have some really interesting rides but they are expensive. They are worth it, but expensive nonetheless, such as the Balloon Ride:

San Diego zoo Safari Park Balloon Ride

The Balloon Ride takes you up about 400 feet into the wild blue yonder, and from there you can see everything for miles around. The best view, though, is directly below you where you can see lions, tigers, elephants, and giraffes, all looking like little ants from 400 feet up.

SNIPPET #7

Speaking of the San Diego Zoo Safari Park, the new Tiger Trail exhibit opened recently. Financed mostly by Conrad Prebys, one of two of San Diego County’s most generous benefactors (Irwin Jacobs is the other). Tiger Trail is fine, fine, fine, allowing you to get within inches of Malayan Tigers, only a big glass window separating you from them.

Malayan Tiger at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park

If you come to San Diego, be sure to contact me. I often have free or discounted tickets to the San Diego Zoo, Safari Park, and SeaWorld, and with enough notice, I can usually play docent for a day.

SNIPPET #8

A couple of different pictures from the Tiger Trail exhibit:

The Way Down Blooming Palm

Remember that the San Diego Zoo and Safari Park both are acclaimed botanical gardens, too, so stop to admire the vegetation while walking from exhibit to exhibit.

SNIPPET #9

This is the San Diego County Administration Center:

San Diego County Administration Center

It has the best view of the waterfront. It’s also where Jim and I got married on October 30, 2008.

SNIPPET #10

My wise old grandmother was a master at re-purposing things, although some of her re-purposing, such as her toilet and bathtub planters, never really appealed to my tastes……..LOL

At the San Diego County Fair back in June, I was pretty sure that my wise old grandmother had come back to life and was happily re-purposing tires for the garden exhibits:

Repurposed

As my wise old grandmother often said: “Don’t throw anything away! There is no away!”

SNIPPET #11

Remember to follow us at Photographic Art by Russel Ray Photos for daily specials on our work at Fine Art America.

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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We come in threes

San Diego Zoo logo

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Yes, Jim and I made it to opening night for the San Diego Nighttime Zoo yesterday.

In three hours I took 141 pictures and 13 videos.

It was the night of threes, though.

WE COME IN THREES

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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San Diego Nighttime Zoo starts today!

San Diego Zoo logo

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Today marks the beginning of the San Diego Nighttime Zoo for 2014. Instead of being open from 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m each day., the Zoo will stay open until 9:00 p.m. each and every day through September 1, 2014.

I love the Nighttime Zoo! Yahoooooooooooooooooooooooooooo! (Smile if you think I’m excited!)

Remember that if you come to San Diego on business or vacation, contact me because I often have free tickets to the San Diego Zoo, Safari Park, or SeaWorld. With enough notice, I can usually play docent for a day!

Also, if you fly into San Diego, sit on the left side of the plane. The view of downtown San Diego as you are landing is awesome!

Following are some of my favorite pictures from past visits to the Zoo. Eventually, Photographic Art will be created from these pictures and Julian will upload them to my galleries at Fine Art America for purchase in many different forms (traditional prints, prints on metal or acrylic, posters, cell phone cases, etc.).

Komodo dragon at the San Diego Zoo

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Necking flamingos at the San Diego Zoo

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Albino burmese python at the San Diego Zoo

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Shoebill at the San Diego Zoo's Safari Park

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Ocellated turkey at the San Diego Zoo

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Hippopotamuses at the San Diego Zoo

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Giant panda at the San Diego Zoo

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Bakka, cheetah ambassador of the San Diego Zoo

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Peacock at the San Diego Zoo

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Koala female and one-year-old joey at the San Diego Zoo

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

San Diego Zoo

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Bald eagle in residence at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Woma at the San Diego Zoo

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Maned wolves at the San Diego Zoo

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Sudanese striped hyena, San Diego Zoo

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

San Diego Zoo

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Polar bear at the San Diego Zoo

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Flamingo chick at the San Diego Zoo

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Cape clawless otter, San Diego Zoo

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Malayan tiger at the San Diego Zoo

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Hibiscus blooming in November at the San Diego Zoo

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Monkey at the San Diego Zoo

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Red kangaroo at the San Diego Zoo

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Camel at the San Diego Zoo

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Red Panda at the San Diego Zoo

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Serval at the San Diego Zoo

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Desert Bighorn Sheep at the San Diego Zoo

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Knobbed Hornbill at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Meerkat at the San Diego Zoo

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Female red-cheeked gibbon at the San Diego Zoo

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Bornean Sun Bear at the San Diego Zoo

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Elephant at the San Diego Zoo

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Striped hyena at the San Diego Zoo

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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A selection of birds from the San Diego Zoo Safari Park

San Diego Zoo Safari Park

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Yesterday was the San Diego Zoological Society’s Members Appreciation Day. Each year they have a big dinner and entertainment at the Safari Park since it has more room (about 2,000 acres more!) than the Zoo. However, I only have to travel seven miles to go to the Zoo whereas Safari Park is forty miles from me. The dinner and entertainment also take place after Safari Park has closed which means we have the whole park all to ourselves, which is kind of nice.

I averaged 99 pictures per hour for the time I spent at Safari Park yesterday. I have decided to share ten pictures with you today! All of birds. Now tell me you’re excited. Go ahead. Tell me….

Himalayan Monal (Lophophorus impeyanus)
Native to the Himalayas.
Himalayan Monal at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park

The little guy above was very aggressive, charging anyone within about eight feet and attempting to peck them. He was pretty fast, too. We think he was protecting a nestmate, which would be logical since its mating season is April through August.

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

White-headed Lapwing (Vanellus albiceps)
Native to tropical Africa, preferring areas near large rivers.
White-headed Lapwing at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

African Spoonbill (Platalea alba)
Widespread throughout Africa.
African Spoonbill at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Southern Bald Ibis (Geronticus calvus)
Native to grasslands and semi-desert areas
in the mountains of southern Africa.
Southern Bald Ibis at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Scarlet Ibis (Eudocimus ruber)
Native to the Caribbean and tropical areas of South America.
Scarlet Ibis at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

White-faced Whistling Duck (Dendrocygna viduata)
Native to Africa and South AmericaWhite-faced Whistling Duck at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Red-breasted Goose (Branta ruficollis)
An endangered bird from Eurasia.Red-breasted Goose at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Coscosroba Swan (Coscoroba coscoroba)
Native to South America, it is the smallest of the birds called “swans.”Coscoroba Swan at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Pink-backed Pelican (Pelecanus rufescens)
Native to Africa, Arabia, and India.Pink-backed Pelican at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Lastly, I would be remiss in my dedication to Julian, Database Manager at Russel Ray Photos (and all-around AWESOME guy!), if I did not include a picture of his favorite bird, the Shoebill (Balaeniceps rex). Safari Park has two of these magnificent birds. I walked around the island and finally found a spot where I could get both birds in the same picture. (If Julian reads this post and finds this insert, I shall provide him with a monetary bonus.) They are solitary birds, but these two are on the same island together, and they were having a stare-down that lasted the full 15 minutes that I spent watching them. The expression of the one bird seems to indicate a slight displeasure with the other shoebill being in its territory.

Shoebill (Balaeniceps rex)
A vulnerable species native to swamps in Africa.Shoebill at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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Penny for your thoughts

San Diego Zoo logo

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Scott #1340 HemisFairI remember the first time I went to a Zoo. It was the San Antonio Zoo, and it was the weekend that my wise old grandmother also took me to HemisFair ’68 in San Antonio.

I had known since my birthday in March that I was going to get to go to HemisFair and to the Zoo. It was a combination birthday present and school’s out celebration.

I loved HemisFair! That’s where I found out via a handwriting analysis that I was a little, hyperactive monster.

I was disappointed with the Zoo because I didn’t get to see the big cats. All of them were in their hideways for the day and would not come out just to see me.

When I moved to San Diego in April 1993, one of the first things I did was get an annual pass to the Zoo. A pass meant that I could go anytime I wanted, ensuring that I would probably see all of the big cats at least once a year.

Most of the big cats are easy to see in their romper rooms. However, one of the larger romper rooms holds the Malayan Tigers (Panthera tigris jacksoni). The mere size of their romper room means that they aren’t always visible from the three viewing areas. When they are out, though, pictures can be quite spectacular.

Following are three pictures of one of the Malayan Tigers that I took on my trip to the San Diego Zoo last Saturday. I’m not sure I like the intense look on its face and in its eyes, but I would give it a penny for its thoughts.

Malayan tiger at the San Diego Zoo

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Malayan tiger at the San Diego Zoo

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Malayan tiger at the San Diego Zoo

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

The Malayan tiger is an endangered species due to habitat fragmentation from development and agriculture, as well as poaching. An estimated 493 to 1,480 tigers were in the wild as of 2003, and only 54 located in 25 zoos as of 2004. Regretfully, the genetic diversity of the 54 zoo tigers are descended from only 11 mommies and daddies (called founders), creating a lack of the genetic diversity needed to ensure successful breeding programs.

Malayan tigers live about 15-20 years, so with breeding tigers in the wild numbering, at best, about 250 individuals, and unsuccessful zoo breeding programs, there will come a time in the not-too-distant future when these beautiful big cats will be extinct.

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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Happy birthday to me!

I livew in my own little world

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

If you were wondering what happened to me today since I didn’t post anything, well, I was celebrating my last birthday before the sun sets on my life. Yep. Sixty is just 365 days away. I turn 59 at 11:58 p.m. today. As I write this, that is only 34 minutes away. Of course, technicalities aside, I have been celebrating all day. Who needs to be exact in life?

My intent was to go to the San Diego Zoo from 9:00-10:30 this morning, then over to SeaWorld from 11:00-12:30, then to teach my chess class at an exclusive rich private school, then to On The Border for Taco Tuesday and a margarita!

I didn’t make it to SeaWorld because I was delayed at the Zoo due to a fire in a car parked just three cars from me. Here’s the smoke as seen from inside the Zoo, when I thought to myself, “That looks like where I parked my car.”

Car fire at the San Diego Zoo on March 11, 2014

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

The police and firefighters had several rows blocked off, including, of course, the row I was parked in, so I stood and watched the fire for 43 minutes. By the time the fire was out and we were allowed to go to our cars, there was no way to get to SeaWorld to make the trip worthwhile.

It’s alright, though, because for my birthday, SeaWorld sent me a buy-one-get-one-free “Dine With Shamu” dinner, so Jim and I will be dining with Shamu real soon. We dined with Shamu a couple of years ago and it was awesome. You get real up close and personal! Here’s Shamu from our last Dine With Shamu dinner:

Dining with Shamu at SeaWorld

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

After eating lunch, I went to teach chess for the first time at Francis Parker school, a rich private exclusive school.  3:30-4:30 class.  A bell rings at 4:00 and my eight students jumped up and went screaming out of the room!

Huh?

Turns out that they get a 10-minute break every hour. What do they do? The school—remember, a rich private exclusive school—feeds them junk food. The kids came back with Cheetos, Fritos, Doritos, cheese & peanut butter crackers, etc.

These are K-6 students, and this rich private exclusive school is serving them junk food?

Confused, I am.

I did, of course, make it to On The Border for Taco Tuesday and margaritas:

Taco Tuesday at On The Border in El Cajon, California

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Margaritas at On The Border in El Cajon, California

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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