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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24 thoughts on “Penny for your thoughts

  1. Patricia Salamone

    We used to take our children to the Central Park Zoo and the Bronx Zoo. They always had a great time and it was also educational. I myself do not have a favorite animal. well maybe I do
    it is probably the elephant. They are so majestic and I love to look at their eyes. Now we take the
    grand children to the zoo, but not as often as we did all those years ago. Your shots of the Mayalan Tigers are beautiful.

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    1. Russel Ray Photos Post author

      Makes me wonder where “God” is and why s/he not only lets people die from hunger, natural disasters, etc., but why s/he doesn’t take care of all the creatures on this Earth that s/he supposedly created in just seven days. Maybe s/he is not finished creating?

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        1. Russel Ray Photos Post author

          Ever since I left organized religion in 1994, I’ve always been of the notion that if there is a God, s/he might not be finished creating things. After all, 200 years ago man was about 5’5″ tall on average. Now he’s over 6′ tall. We live longer, we help God create things, like spaceships, the Internet, smart phones, etc. On and on.

          Here’s another of my thoughts about this God: https://www.facebook.com/thespiritscience/photos/a.224942914212872.59713.210238862349944/746955438678281/?type=1&theater

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          1. Gallivanta

            🙂 Not exactly on the God line of thought but there is a notion here (and probably in the US, too) that if we want to save our endangered species in New Zealand, we should farm them. Not sure how valid that argument is , but for certain species it might work.

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                1. Russel Ray Photos Post author

                  San Diego was the first zoo to move from cages to open expanse exhibits when they created the Wild Animal Park way back in 1972. It is interesting to see giraffes, rhinos, ostriches, etc., all coexisting side by side in a huge exhibit area comprising many acres. Of course, they have to keep the alpha predators separate–poor kitties.

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      1. kanzensakura

        If you google, Cheetah Cam Richmond Zoo, there are several short little videos of them. Even as kittens, they have that…..walk the big cats have. It has been too much fun, watching before the Cheetah Cam went offline, watching them being fed, washed by mom…truly incredible. I’ve always been a tiger person but after this event, cheetahs have moved on in line with the tigers.

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  2. Gerard Villanueva

    My parents took me to Hemisfair 68 when I was quite young. What I still remember was an Aztec ceremonial human sacrifice re-enactment and “Los Voladores de Papantla”. I’ll never forget one of the Indians smoking a cigarette while hanging upside down with a rope tied to his ankle, swirling down around the pole.
    I worked at the S.A Zoo for a couple of years as a zookeeper during the late 80’s. I didn’t need any special education, I basically cleaned cages and animal pens and fed the animals. Verrrry interesting…..but hard!

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