Tag Archives: san diego zoo

Out & About—Puma concolor

Out & About

I spoke to the Bakersfield Cactus & Succulent Society on February 11, 2020, about nature’s geometry in succulents, and spoke on the same subject at the San Gabriel Valley Cactus & Succulent Society on February 13.

Bakersfield is a 4-hour drive from me, and the Los Angeles County Arboretum where San Gabriel Valley Cactus & Succulent Society meets, is a 3-hour drive, so it’s not like I was going to come home after Bakersfield and then drive back to Los Angeles through all that horrendous traffic.

Thus, I spent Wednesday out and about Bakersfield, exploring trains, zoos, arboretums and gardens, and the campus of California State University-Bakersfield.

Bakersfield has a zoo and arboretum by the name of California Living Museum, or CALM for short. It specializes in California native fauna and flora.

I have been a member of zoos, arboretums, aquariums, and animal sanctuaries since I was 13 when my wise old grandmother got me a membership to the Gladys Porter Zoo in Brownsville, Texas. After that it was the San Antonio Zoo and Houston Zoo.

I came to San Diego, California, in April 1993, and as soon as I decided to stay (took three days!), I immediately joined the San Diego Zoo, and I have been a member ever since.

The California Living Museum is only 14 acres with 250 animals representing 80 species. I could not find any information on the number of plant species.

Compare that to the San Diego Zoo at 99 acres, 3,700 animals, and 650 species. Compare both to the San Diego Zoo Safari Park at 1,800 acres, 3,500+ animals, and 400+ species. Consequently, I didn’t know quite what to expect. I really thought that it would take no more than 90 minutes or so to check out everything.

I was wrong!

It took four hours!

Seeing native California animals was great, especially those that I had not seen before, such as coyotes, various rattlesnakes, coatamundi (still don’t know what that is!), and the beautiful mountain lion (Puma concolor).

Although the San Diego Zoo has a mountain lion, it’s a lazy ass cat and always is sleeping in its cave whenever I go by. The one at CALM was perched on a rock watching the people who were watching it. I got my best picture ever of this beautiful big kitty:

Mountain lion

Would you look at that tail!

I will have more pictures of this beautiful and impressive little zoo in future posts.

As an aside, I know I have readers who despise zoos and aquariums. All of the fauna at CALM are in three categories:

    1. Animals that are injured and unable to hunt or defend themselves, so they cannot be released back into the wild.
    2. Animals that have been rescued from the illegal pet trade. When animals are taken from their territory, returning them to a different territory usually means their death, either from not knowing where to hunt in their territory or being killed by other animals defending that territory. Since it is unknown where their territory was, they can’t be released back into the wild.
    3. Animals that have been imprinted. This sometimes happens when injured animals are rescued and treated for their injuries. One always hopes for their complete recovery and return to the wild, but sometimes the animal becomes too accustomed to humans providing for its food, health, and safety, a condition known as imprinting.

Without zoos, aquariums, and sanctuaries, these animals would probably be euthanized. Instead, they can live out their lives in comfort. There also is quite a lot of research indicating that people won’t (or can’t) spend the money and time to make a trip to the wild to see these animals, but to see them in zoos, aquariums, and sanctuaries often turns people into animal activists and conservationists. I also met one San Diego Zoo employee who told me that she visited the Zoo when she was 8 years old. She decided she wanted to work there one day. She got a degree in biology and has worked at the Zoo for 17 years.

Mountain lion

The Los Angeles Zoo & Botanical Garden—A Review

The Los Angeles Zoo & Botanical Garden
A Review

Hippos at the Los Angeles ZooI became a fan of zoos after my first visit to the Gladys Porter Zoo in Brownsville, Texas, in summer 1966. If I had never seen a giraffe, or an elephant, or a rhinoceros, or a hippopotamus…. I never would have taken such an interest in their plight in the world.

Chimpanzees at the Los Angeles ZooA couple of years later, a real live monkey showed up in our yard. My wise old grandmother told me to give it a banana. I though that was only in cartoons. The darn thing ate it. And as with just about any animal, if you feed it, it’s yours.

That monkey stayed in the trees in our back yard for several months. I named it Cheetah.

Los Angeles Zoo & Botanical GardenThen, one day, people showed up to take Cheetah. They were people from the San Antonio Zoo. A monkey was considered an exotic pet, and exotic pets were not allowed in Kingsville, Texas. We had to let them capture Cheetah and take him away.

When San Antonio hosted Hemisfair in 1968, I convinced my wise old grandmother to take me to San Antonio. Sure I wanted to go to Hemisfair, but more importantly to this little boy, I wanted to go to the San Antonio Zoo to see Cheetah.

Serval at the Los Angeles ZooI don’t know whether or not Cheetah recognized me, but to this day I believe he did. All one has to do is watch YouTube videos about animals recognizing those who rescued them, fed them, and cared for them, even after being separated from them for weeks, months, and, in one case, 11 years. Yeah, our animals that we care for know who we are.

Los Angeles ZooYesterday, Jim and I went to the Los Angeles Zoo & Botanical Garden. I had never been to the Los Angeles Zoo, but since I have been going to the San Diego Zoo and the Safari Park on a regular basis for 26½ years, I already knew that the Los Angeles Zoo didn’t have anything that I had not already seen. Thus, my main interest was in the Botanical Garden aspect of the zoo with the possible intent of including a section in my forthcoming book, SSS: Southwest Succulent Staycation.

Ostrich at the Los Angeles ZooThe Los Angeles Zoo opened in 1966, so it’s about fifty years younger than the San Diego Zoo. However, at 133 acres, it is 33 acres larger. However, there are only about 1,400 animals residing at the Los Angeles Zoo. After walking the whole zoo yesterday, I would guess that about 70 acres is simply unused land. Jim and I always are tired after a trip to the San Diego Zoo. We didn’t experience that after walking the Los Angeles Zoo.

Los Angeles Zoo & Botanical GardenI was disappointed in the zoo but I might be unreasonably comparing it to the San Diego Zoo and Safari Park. The L.A. Zoo was quite busy yesterday. However, it needs a serious cleaning, including a parking lot renovation. The asphalt probably is the original asphalt from when the zoo opened in 1966. The whole place was overgrown with weeds. Deciduous trees had dropped all their leaves; unfortunately, all over the exhibits, making a mess of them, making a mess of any horticultural exhibits beneath the trees, making a mess of the various play areas for children.

Notwithstanding all the problems, there were several things that made the visit worthwhile:

      1. I now have been to the Los Angeles Zoo & Botanical Garden.
      2. The birds show was excellent because it featured birds that you won’t be seeing in your back yard: two African vultures (huge birds!) and a California Condor (another huge bird!)
      3. Although many of the botanical gardens were weedy and covered with leaves, I did get enough good pictures for my book.
      4. The giraffe feeding line was very long, and having fed the giraffes at the San Diego Zoo, I can tell you that feeding giraffes is quite an experience. This final picture shows a little girl feeding a giraffe. I believe this little girl will grow up with an appreciation of wildlife—my appreciation of wildlife started by feeding a monkey. Perhaps this little girl will get a college degree in wildlife conservation, maybe even work in a zoo providing this type of experience to the next generation.

Feeding a giraffe at the Los Angeles Zoo

All pictures in this post were taken by me
at the Los Angeles Zoo & Botanical Garden
on December 29, 2019.

New giraffe species at the San Diego Zoo

San Diego Zoo logo

I discovered many decades ago that annual memberships to places that one enjoys going quite regularly are very worthwhile.

First, they save a lot of money.

Second, though, things are always changing.

As my wise old grandmother told me after I had become the largest typing service in Kingsville, Texas: “If you want to stay #1, you have to change.”

At the time that didn’t make sense to me, but after watching several companies—Quark Express, Lotus 1-2-3, PC Word, Wordstar, WordPerfect—with #1 market share disappear because they failed to change, either with the times or in response to competition, I now understand.

The San Diego Zoo is another case in point. When I was watching Johnny Carson in the ’60s and ’70s, two of his regular guests came from the Cincinnati Zoo and the San Diego Zoo. Even though San Diego was much closer to Hollywood, I thought the Cincinnati Zoo got more exposure. That put the Cincinnati Zoo on my list of top zoos to visit.

When I finally got to the Cincinnati Zoo in 1995, it was a major disappoint-ment, especially since I had already been a member of the San Diego Zoo for a year. I was soooooooooo looking forward to visiting what I had always considered the #1 zoo in North America. Sadly, the exhibits and the zoo itself were overgrown with weeds, the alligator exhibit was disgustingly gross and odiferous, and many daytime animals simply were nowhere to be found. I now know that the Cincinnati Zoo had lost a major benefactor due to his death and had not found a replacement for several millions of dollars that had flowed into the zoo each year.

Elephant getting a pedicure at the San Diego ZooHere at the San Diego Zoo, they continue to expand the boundaries of zoo exhibits, being the first zoo to create natural exhibits where several different species live together, just like in the wild. Conrad Prebys, San Diego Zoo’s major benefactor, died a few years ago but left a lot of money to the San Diego Zoo. Thus, we have the Conrad Prebys Koalifornia koala exhibit, the Conrad Prebys elephant care facility, and the newly opened Conrad Prebys Africa Rocks! exhibit.

The San Diego Zoo comprises only 100 acres, though, so when an area gets renovated, they have to do something with all the animals that made that area home. Typically, they will loan them out to other zoos, and other zoos reciprocate when they are undergoing their own renovations. The San Diego Zoo also often rescues animals from other zoos that didn’t make it financially, or “backyard zoos” which are typically still found in the Midwest and South. A couple of years ago, several abused and distressed elephants from an Oklahoma Zoo and a backyard zoo in Texas were brought to the San Diego Zoo and rehabilitated, now happily roaming around 14 acres with their own herd.

Recently I discovered a new giraffe species at the San Diego Zoo.

I was quite surprised because I had read nothing about this new species in the Zoo Magazine or on the web site, and nothing in the news about it.

It’s quite an interesting animal.

Here’s its picture:

Unusual giraffe

And you thought this whole post was going to be serious. I guess I just can’t be trusted.

I'm Zoey the Cool Cat, and I approve this post

Plants of the San Diego Zoo

San Diego Zoo logo

One of the meetup groups that I belong to is the Pacific Photographic Society with 2,248 members.

A perk of having that many members is that when we ask a company or its representative if we can have access to something, the answer rarely is no. Companies seem to be only too happy to let a bunch of photographers come in and take pictures of everything, even behind the scenes. Quite often we’ll be asked to provide our best pictures to the company, and sometimes those pictures get used in promotional brochures for the company, with photographer credit!

A disadvantage for me is that I have about $3,000 worth of equipment. That sounds like a lot but there are people in the group who have $30,000 worth of equipment. I can’t compete with them, nor do I want to. So I try to do things differently. When I go out with the group, I usually am the last person in line. I watch what the other people are taking pictures of, and then I take pictures of something different.

Such is the case each year when our last event is a visit to the San Diego Zoo. I have been going to the Zoo an average of once a week for many years, so I have billions and billions and billions of animal pictures. Since the San Diego Zoo also is an internationally recognized botanical garden, I also have billions and billions and billions of plant pictures. It’s the plants that people seem never to notice when they go to the Zoo, and since I love plants as much as the animals, I have an advantage there.

So, of course, at our Zoo visit on December 31, 2017, I took nothing but plant pictures. Well, I was promoted to group photographer since I was the only one with any kind of a wide-angle lens, mine being a Tamron 16-300mm zoom lens, so I got to take the group photo::

Pacific Photographic Society at the San Diego Zoo on December 31, 2017

I’ll share pictures of some of the animals from my two visits to the Zoo on the last two days of the year but meanwhile you’ll have to be satisfied with plant pictures. Of the following, the first two pictures are getting a lot of comments and “best picture” votes, and that was my intent, to show them that there is more to the Zoo than just the animals.

Which plant picture is your favorite?

1 – Teeny tiny mushroom forestMushrooms at the San Diego Zoo

2
Plant at the San Diego Zoo

3 – Cycad
Plant at the San Diego Zoo

4
Plant at the San Diego Zoo

5 – I think these are dates
Plant at the San Diego Zoo

6 – Aerial roots of a Ficus tree
Plant at the San Diego Zoo

7
Plant at the San Diego Zoo

8 – Philodendron branch
Plant at the San Diego Zoo

9 – Philodendron fruit
Plant at the San Diego Zoo

10
Plant at the San Diego Zoo

11 – Ficus tree
Plant at the San Diego Zoo

12
Plant at the San Diego Zoo

I'm Zoey the Cool Cat, and I approve this post

Picture of the Moment—I’m just a hairy guy, morning, noon & night

Picture of the Moment

Yesterday Jim & I went to the San Diego Zoo for two purposes: to visit the finally completed, now open Conrad Prebys Africa Rocks exhibit; and to test out my new Tamron 90mm macro lens on the plants.

If you ever go to the San Diego Zoo, slow down and look around because the Zoo is both a world-renowned botanical garden and a world-renowned zoo.

I’m heading back to the Zoo momentarily with my Tamron 16-300 daily walkaround lens to get pictures of Africa Rocks. Meanwhile, here’s a picture from yesterday that encouraged me to return today with the zoom lens:

Daddy, Mommy & Baby Baboon
Baboon family at the San Diego Zoo

Get a load of the hair on daddy! Straight out of the Summer of Love!

I should come back with many hundreds of pictures that I’ll be able to use for future blog posts, so if you aren’t following me yet, now might be the time!

Happy New Year’s Eve to all!

I'm Zoey the Cool Cat, and I approve this post

Playing docent for friends at the San Diego Zoo

San Diego Zoo logo

Remember that if you come to San Diego for any reason and need a personal docent for the day, I’m always up for it. I often have free tickets to the San Diego Zoo and the San Diego Zoo Safari Park. They can be YOURS, free, just like I got them!

Yesterday I played docent for two old friends that I had not seen since 1983, other than Facebook, of course. Here are some pictures from our trip to the Zoo:

Grizzly BearGrizzly bear

Panda. Remember that these are not bears. Just pandas.
Panda

Baby monkey, although I don’t know what species.
Baby monkey

A female gazelle, looking very pregnant
and being checked on by her previous child.
Pregnant momma

Polar Bear enjoying the San Diego sunshine.
Polar Bear

Reindeer, but not Rudolph, obviously.
Reindeer

Arctic fox. There were two of them yesterday. In 23 years of going to the San Diego Zoo at least once a month, and usually once a week, these are only the second and third pictures I have gotten of the arctic fox.
Arctic fox

Arctic fox

Got a group photo of some well-known people.
Group photo

California Condor. Extinct in the wild as recently as 1987 with only 22 birds still living, all in captivity. The San Diego Zoo’s breeding program has resulted in the re-introduction into the wild. It still is one of the world’s rarest birds, with 446 now living both in the wild and in captivity.
Ccalifornia condor

Hyrax. I got up close and personal with my 150-600 mm lens.
Hyrax

Meerkat. One of my favorite animals. They are so much fun to watch.
Meerkat

Hyrax momma and her two young ones. The look on her face! Is she thinking that some sort of pervert is taking pictures of her young ones sucking on her teats and is going to put them on the Internet?
Hyrax

Squirrel. This is a “local animal” according to the Zoo,
meaning that it is free to come and go at will. Of course, it knows
where the best food is, not to mention lots of friends!
Squirrel

Kookaburra. It’s difficult to get a good picture of these birds because of the tiny mesh surrounding their enclosure. They have to be at just the right distance from the mesh for my 150-600 mm lens to get through the mesh.
Kookaburra

Silverback Gorilla, pondering.
Lowland gorilla

Orangutan, also pondering.
Orangutan

I'm Zoey the Cool Cat, and I approve this post