St. Louis Zoo, part 1

As I mentioned earlier I had a day off Monday, and rather than spending the whole day working in the garden my wife and I decided to go to the zoo. The St. Louis zoo is one of the top zoos in the country, and I hadn't been there for at least five years, so I was looking forward to the visit.


Besides, I've never really taken many photos of zoo animals, and certainly haven't done a post that was focused primarily on animals (not counting deer or moles). So this is going to be a little different. Oh, if you're viewing this post to learn the names of lots of unique animals, you might be disappointed -- I didn't take notes (although I did look up many of the animal names later).


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For instance, the cutie above -- no idea what it is (I tell you later actually). I know it was the only one visible, and it was hiding in the front corner -- the only spot that was almost impossible to see into. More on him (her?) later.

The first animals we saw were the bears, and the only two available were a Malayan Sun bear...


...and a grizzly.


Man, bears have some weird eyes, don't they?


Really glad we didn't see any of these up close when we were in Wyoming.

A bit disappointing in that the polar bear habitat was being renovated and wouldn't open until 2015. The puffins and penguins were unavailable too -- I wonder where they live during this time, just indoors somewhere? On loan to other zoos?

Next up, the relatively new sea lion exhibit:



Is there a better way to watch sea lions than from an underwater glass tunnel? No, unless you're trying to take photos that don't contain reflections.


Really a great way to see how much fun they're having! Of course you can still view them from above too:


Next up, the gorillas:



The silverback kept giving me the eye, even though he was quite far away.



We next visited the flight cage, the oldest structure in the zoo:


Actually, this thing is older than the zoo itself, having been constructed for the 1904 World's Fair. I always remembered it being filled with flamingos, but it seems like they've given it a nice makeover, making it look more like a Missouri swamp.


There are several pretty large Bald Cypress trees in here, and that's where most of the birds were perched:


Not all of them were in the trees though, making for some nice, reflective shots:


At this point I should mention that although I had just put batteries into the camera, they had been sitting in the charger for a few weeks and apparently did not hold their charge well. The dreaded "Battery Depleted" message showed at this time. A quick rummage through the camera bag found a set of used regular AA Alkaline batteries, as well as some depleted "Lithium" batteries that I used before I switched to rechargeables. I know that even "dead" Alkalines usually rebound and are good for a few more shots at least, so I gave them a try. Success! I was able to continue shooting -- but I didn't photograph everything to conserve the little power I had left.

One thing about this zoo that has changed over the last 10 years or so is that it's much more garden-like. There are wonderful, naturalistic plantings everywhere, and lots of bamboo:


I saw at least a half-dozen varieties of bamboo surrounding many of the animal enclosures, in ornamental beds, and even as "fences" in some of the pens:


Some of the bamboo was sorely in need of watering, with tightly-rolled leaves. We haven't had much rain this summer in St. Louis.

Okay, back to the animals. Can you guess what this next one is?


Since I remember this one, I'll tell you...


...it's a Bongo. That's a young one. This next one is not so young:


There are lots of similar but different hoofed animals in this part of the zoo...


I'm kind of a sucker for striped animals. (Lesser Kudu above)


Oh, and this guy -- he's a Red-flanked Duiker. I looked it up.

Sharing some of the enclosures with the antelopes and the like were some birds. Some beautiful, big birds:


The East African Crowned Crane. Quite spectacular!


Back to the antelope though... or are they gazelles?



If you think those legs are skinny (on that Soemmerring's Gazelle), check out these wispy things:


I seriously don't know how those fragile-looking bones even support the animal's weight. So delicate! (I think that's a Speke's Gazelle.)

It's not all elegance and grace in the world of hoofed animals though...


There's coarseness, and solidity, and quite a bit of ugly there too...


...but in a warm, cuddly way. (Visayan Warty Pigs)


Still ugly though.

Back to the stripes, with Okapi...


In the Amsterdam zoo they have raccoons on exhibit. My first thought upon seeing the next animals...


...was "why would they have cattle here?". But then after a few minutes you realize that these are different -- they're wild (or would be if they weren't in a zoo):


So beautiful! (Banteng)

As I wrap up this first of two posts about my zoo visit (even with mostly-dead batteries I managed to snap over 140 photos), there's one thing that's unavoidable when going to the zoo...


...and that's seeing at least some sleeping or half-sleeping animals.


Lots of them were doing it -- some just looked more relaxed than others. (I don't know how giraffes ever get comfortable!)


Tomorrow I'll start with the giraffe enclosure, where there was much more action than I expected to see.

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Maywyn Studio  – (October 16, 2013 at 10:56 AM)  

Great pictures! The gorilla shots are outstanding.

Lee@A Guide to Northeastern Gardening  – (October 16, 2013 at 11:50 AM)  

Wow...amazing photos! I am glad to have found you!

Alan  – (October 16, 2013 at 1:23 PM)  

Thanks Maywyn!

Lee: glad to have you as a reader! Come back daily, as I somehow seem to post every day.

Lisa  – (October 16, 2013 at 7:00 PM)  

I love the zoo! We have the Milwaukee County Zoo less than an hour from home and try to get there several times a year.

Great pictures!

Alan  – (October 17, 2013 at 9:27 AM)  

Lisa: I think I went the the Milwaukee Zoo once on a family trip when I was a teenager. I'm sure it's changed dramatically since then. :)

Patrick  – (October 19, 2013 at 10:37 PM)  

This was a real treat as it's been over 12 years since we visited here when we lived in St. Louis before I became paralyzed. It always shined compared to our embarrassing KC Zoo. Enjoy it for both of us. Enjoyed seeing the south end of a north bound crowned crane. Heard that expression first on Antique Roadshow about a buffalo painting. Appraiser noted the N end of S bound animal was more valuable, But your image is da bomb.

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