Tag Archives: zoo

Fun times at The Wilds

23 Jul

Trivia question: The largest wildlife conservation center in North America, a place where African, Asian, and North American species roam freely on over 9,000 acres, is in what U.S. state?

Did you guess Florida, California, or somewhere with way better weather than middle-of-nowhere Ohio? You’re wrong. The answer is Ohio (middle-of-nowhere Ohio, to be exact).

Last week we drove approximately 3 hours from Cincinnati to visit The Wilds, the largest wildlife conservation center in North America. Though it’s partnered with the Columbus Zoo, there’s nothing zoo-like about it — all the animals roam freely in open pastures. The only way to see them is through scheduled bus tours, which drive you through the pastures for 2 hours like you’re on a safari (or at Jurassic Park). They have open-air buses for the authentic safari experience, but since it was 90+ degrees F (33C) on the day we went, we opted for the “climate-controlled” buses. I put “climate-controlled” in quotation marks because whatever air-conditioning system they had on board did not seem to be working and I was a hot, sweaty mess by the end of the tour. If you want to get up close and personal with the animals (and have $125 burning a hole in your pocket), you can take the Wildside Tour. We first encountered a Wildside truck being surrounded by Persian onagers.

wildside onagers.pngAs we circled back around our bus met the same fate.

persian onagers.pngThey were everywhere! Apparently they were attracted to the bus because the exhaust kept the flies off them. Two of them parked themselves right in front of our bus and would not move.

onagers bus.pngOur driver had to call Animal Management to come and lure them away so we could continue on with the tour.

We got off the bus for a bit to see the parakeets and some other animals.

parakeets the wilds.pngCheetah!

cheetah the wilds.pngThey were feeding the African painted dogs while we were there.

painted dogs the wilds.pngZebra (with a less impressive wiener than the zebra we saw in San Diego. Sorry, it had to be said!)

zebra the wilds.png

zebra close up.pngFrom a distance we saw the ostrich harassing the Wildside Tour, so we knew he was gonna be fun.

ostrich wildside.pngHe kept trying to stick his head in our driver’s little window.ostrich bus.pngostrich funny.pngWe had a great view!

ostrich the wilds.pngHow often do you get to see an ostrich and a giraffe together?giraffe ostrich.png

giraffe the wilds.pngSouthern white rhino

white rhino the wilds.pngScimitar-horned oryx have wicked horns!oryx the wilds.pngThey’re native to North Africa and still thought it was way too hot in Ohio.

Baby scimitar-horned oryx with tiny horns!

oryx babies.png

Almost all my photos were taken from the bus, so you can see how close we were able to get to a lot of the animals. If you ever find yourself in middle-of-nowhere Ohio, I highly recommend a visit to The Wilds. Just maybe not on one of the hottest days of the year.


Fun times at the Louisville Zoo

5 Jan

The other day we went down to Louisville to visit the zoo (and my brother). I’ve been to the Cincinnati Zoo countless times so it was nice to get my Fitbit steps and animal fix in a new spot. They had a killer gorilla exhibit (more on that later) as well as some animals Cincinnati Zoo doesn’t have, like wallabies and rock hyraxes.

What’s a rock hyrax? This:

rock hyrax.png

I would have bet money it was a rodent, but according to its little informative sign, its closest living relatives are the elephant and manatee. (How?!) Especially when those teeth just scream rodent (and “Phteven”)

stephen with a ph

Sorry, Tuna the Chihuahua-Dachshund mix cracks me up.

We wandered over to the lion exhibit where Marvin Gaye was playing (not really, but it should have been). The male slowly licked the female’s face before trying to — ahem — “jump over her.” She was not having any of it though and he quickly retreated to his rock to pout. Side note: are lions supposed to be that skinny? I guess I haven’t seen many up close since at most zoos they’re sitting far away so you don’t get a good look at them.

lion love.png

The Louisville Zoo is home to a rare white American alligator named King Louie. My camera didn’t feel like focusing on him.

white alligator louisville.png

The zoo is also home to freedom incarnate.

american eagle.png

And actual Louisville cardinals! Although I don’t think this dude is part of the zoo, he was just hanging out by the parrot exhibit.

louisville cardinal zoo.png

This bird inexplicably decided to sit on this other bird.

birds sitting on each other.png

This bird has killer neck feathers.

bird cool neck.png

We went on the Wallaroo Walkabout which was full of animals too small to be kangaroos and too big to be wallabies, so they’re called wallaroos (I think).

louisville wallaby.png

Apparently I was confusing wallabies with wombats and was disappointed we didn’t see any of those cute koala-beaver-looking things, but wallabies are still cool too.

cute wallaby.png

We also saw this little bird in the Wallaroo Walkabout. I felt bad for him because he was super pumped to see us but couldn’t come through the fence.

australian bird.png

He spent the whole time banging his beak against the fencing in vain until we left.

aussie bird.png

Over at Gorilla Forest it was Helen the gorilla’s 58th birthday! Helen is the fourth oldest known gorilla in the North American population. We arrived a few hours after her celebration, but judging by the state of the decor, it was a raging party.

gorilla party.png

Like most animals (and children) she seemed most interested in the box her present came in.

louisville gorilla birthday.png

NOM NOM box!

louisville gorilla helen.png

I was really impressed with Gorilla Forest, both with the quality of the exhibit and the amount of gorillas they had. I also like this gorilla throwing shade:

gorilla throwing shade.png

I think somebody is regretting eating so much of Helen’s cake. I sent this photo to my friend and captioned it “How I feel after a month of eating ‘Murican food.”

gorilla regret.png

This random lady there was showing a gorilla photos of gorillas on her phone.

gorilla cell phone.png

I think he found a photo he likes!

gorilla scream.png

I didn’t go into Louisville Zoo with high expectations, but I was impressed. The crowds weren’t bad and most of the animals were out. Any day where I get to see and photograph gorillas and rock hyraxes is a good day in my book.

The Photos I’ve Been Meaning to Post Part II: The Cincinnati Zoo

4 Jan

Every year my mother tells the story of the magical time they went to the Cincinnati Zoo on Black Friday and no one else was there. It’s become almost a legend in our house. Last year we tried to replicate the experience, but were met with crowds of strollers and screaming children. We were beginning to think my mom had made the story up. So this year we decided to go in early December on a Sunday afternoon when rain was in the forecast and the Bengals were playing. We hit the jackpot. It was like a zombie apocalypse had hit — not a single fellow zoo-goer in sight. And I held off the rain until 20 minutes before we were to leave because I walked around the entire zoo in my brand new rain boots (not recommended, but at least my sore feet were dry during those last 20 minutes). As promised, here are some photos of some awesome animals, because you can’t go to a zoo and not take photos like you’ve never seen an animal before.

These penguins enjoy hanging around outside the Children’s Zoo, playing in their pond and foliage.

zoo penguin

This monkey looks like Zoboomafoo (I’m dating myself, I think), but I don’t know what kind of monkey it is. I do know that I stood there and took too many photos of this mother and baby, which is one of the benefits of having the zoo to yourself — no pushing kids scaring the monkeys away.

monkey baby

These birds have amazing coloring.

rainbow bird

I also love this bird’s blue and beak.

blue bird

This is my brother’s favorite zoo animal — the sand cat. It’s basically a domestic shorthair who lives in the desert.

sand cat

… or at least it was his favorite zoo animal, until he discovered Gary:

zoo stray cat

Gary is a stray cat we found wandering outside the Jungle Trail. (“Oh no, one of the bobcats escaped!” an unalarmed zookeeper passing by said, so I guess everyone knows Gary.) My brother named him Gary because he looks like his cat, Mary. As the lone cat lover in the family, he had no problem picking up Gary. Unfortunately Gary had a problem with that, but continued to follow us around for most of our journey through the zoo. The Cincinnati Zoo has more than 500 species and my brother couldn’t stop playing with a stray cat. (And I couldn’t stop photographing him. Please take a moment to admire the above photo I took. It was not easy to get him to stay still.)

Towards the end my rain boots weren’t making it, so I parked myself on a bench while my mom and brother went exploring down a trail. They didn’t see any animals down there, but I saw two pigs on leashes walk by! Sometimes it pays to be lazy, friends.

pig leash

And then it started to rain, so we went to the giraffe area, where I captured this adorable interaction between mother and baby. The coloring was a little off, so I thought it looked better in black and white. It’s almost like they’re making a heart!

giraffe love

And those are all my zoo photos worth posting. Stay tuned for Part III: Darn you, Pinterest, and your time-consuming Christmas cookies!

What do fluffy penguins and salsa dancing Chihuahuas have in common?

11 Dec

I’ve been rubbish about posting lately, and it’s likely to get worse as I venture to Chicago and Milwaukee this weekend. Here are some excuses as to why I haven’t been posting: work, family, baking, eating, shopping and looking up important things on the Internet.

To tide you over until I can make a proper post, here is a photo I took at the Cincinnati Zoo of a creepy fluffy baby bird telling off his parent:


More photos of awesome animals — including Squirt! — when I return in a week.


OK, fine, here’s a salsa-dancing Chihuahua too.

salsa chihuahua