Field of Science

A Day at the Zoo

Had a great afternoon with my son at the local zoo. The Como Zoo is a great place to spend a few hours at frequently. For anyone on a tight budget, it is free to visit both the zoo and the conservatory, and for those with the dollars, they request a donation of $2 for adults and $1 for children!!! Since I am not on a tight budget, or at least not that tight, my son and I 'donated' $10 to get in. ($10 for the both of us to spend a little over 3 hours out on a beautiful, albeit somewhat cool day.

My son wanted to check out the primates first, so off we went. The entrance we used put us right by the blue eyed black lemurs. There's a male (black) and female (brown). I got a picture of the male, but he was being a bit shy and I could only see him from behind. The female was sitting right out in the open watching us watch her. (This is the first time we got to really observe one of the lemurs as they are usually sleeping or hiding out when we visit.) The lemurs hold a special place in our hearts because a couple of years ago, the boy and I went to a 'feed the primates' class and got to prepare an active learning dinner for the lemurs (other people did the same for the gorillas, various monkeys, and orangutans, but we got to feed the lemurs. 

Checking out the male (below-not shown)

Preening break from people watching
Next up were some monkeys, they were cute (Emperor Tamarins) or not (White Faced Sakis), but were not particularly photogenic today. The orangutans were extremely photogenic today. They all their blankets, which they liked to cover themselves up in. Initially, the alpha male and two females had blankets, but the baby didn't. The female (with the juvenile below) went and took the blanket from the alpha male and played with two blankets, although the juvenile ultimately got one of them. It was fascinating just to watch them use the blankets, covering up their heads and trying to get them positioned just right.

Momma (I think)  playing with the baby (currently being chewed on).

Momma! Look at those ugly hairless things!
Finally, the gorillas. I don't know why, but my son spent a half hour just watching them. especially the silver back below (weight 525lb). They weren't doing much in general except eating from their Menard buckets of food. It was an interesting sociological experiment of a dad watching his son watching a gorilla.
Hey Maude, is that kid still back there?
We left the primates, checked out the aquarium area and some of the hoofed animals (bison were out). Then off to the big cats enclosure. This is another favorite as we spend another early weekend day setting up a raw chicken happy meal for the tiger. Usually there is not much to see as the cats are sleeping (except the tiger, he (she?) is usually walking around being all menacing and whatnot. However, much like the primates the cats were particularly active. One of the mountain lions was keeping an eye on the enclosure (this is the first time I have seen one out in plain sight).
Maybe there's something to eat over here.
More importantly, one of the cats was sleeping right next to the viewing window.

Close up

Sleeping after a hard day of lounging.

Just to give you a sense of how large these cats are, my son is about 3 feet from the cat (albeit with a large piece of plate glass between them). Needless to say, it's obvious to me who the predator is and who the prey is (hint: prey do not sleep by windows).
Here but for the grace of glass go I
Last picture the snow leopards. Again, we were fortunate that they were both out and about. Here we see some grooming in action. These are my favorite cats at the zoo (at least from the looks department.)
OK I do you, then you get me right? Right? Oh come on!
I am so glad we have the Como Zoo near our house and that the animals were so active on this trip. We get some decent backyard nature, flying squirrels being the big thing these days, but I'm glad my son can see these animals in 'real' life. Gearing up for a number of hikes this spring-summer, so hopefully we can work on our appreciation of nature.

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