Entries in zoo (5)


Munich Zoo - Sea Lions and the rest

Unfortunately, this is the final photoblog from our June day at the Munich Zoo.  After the baby elephant, lions & polar bears, and various birds, we'll finish with sea lions and other creatures we caught on camera.  (But surely we'll go back to the zoo this Autumn.)

While they were swimming and playing, California sea lions were some of the most difficult animals to photograph because they move so fast, and often underwater!  So we pointed our lenses at those sea lions "kissing" on the edge of the pool:

At the far side of the pen was a mom and baby.  She was usually shielding him/her from sight, and we had to be quick to capture this shot:

Further down the zoo path was the house with tortoises.  I think these are from the Seychelles (definitely not Galapagos)... I need to remember to take a photo of the information plaque as well as the animals next time!

Surprisingly they were quite active, because it was lunch time: 

The baboons were not so active.  The young ones played, but many like this guy just sat around munching on something.  Wonder what it's thinking?

I looked through the entire list of Munich Zoo animals and think this next one is an Indian Gaur -- the largest species of wild cattle.  Its horns are less curvy, but other Google images indicate that this is the closest match to the zoo's list of residents.  (Yes, I really have to take better notes next time.)

In the next photo, a Vicuna (native to the Andes) and an ostrich are standing together.  It's always funny what animals the zoos can/will put in the same pen.  The ostrich comes from Africa and and Vicuna from South America! 

Small creek-size branches of the Isar River run through the zoo.  This next photo was just outside the zoo while crossing a bridge.  The fish in the water is bigger than the duck (and swam right under)!

We almost didn't get this last one, but he emerged for a moment at dusk, just as we were about to leave.  The giant anteater hugged the fence on the far side of the pen, and hustled away to hidden places.  We figured it was time to go home as well. 



LEGO at the Zoo

I love animals and I love creative LEGO works. The Bronx Zoo in New York has made the ultimate combination - with its Great Summer Zoofari: A LEGO® Wildlife Expedition.

Julie Larsen Maher ©WCSThe zoo has scattered LEGO sculptures of some of their animals throughout the grounds. For the kids, each one has a stamp that they can collect on their LEGO animal passport (kind of like the little checklist they give you on safari!)

Here's the tiger stalking through some grass.

You can see some of the other pictures at Geekosystem, including flamingoes, a bear, octopus, gorilla, frogs, and others.




In addition to the sculptures, the zoo also has days where you can work with the "LEGO Master Builders" to build sculptures with visitors,a nd little stations for kids to build small animal sculptures.

It's on through 30 September.


For those of us here in Germany, the site has a couple sets of instructions on the Zoo's site showing how to build frogs and fish:

Or we can visit the larger than life giraffe (and other things) at the LEGOLAND Discovery Center in Berlin (at Postdamer Platz). We didn't go inside, but did stop to pose with the giraffe. She's huge!! I'm deciding it's a she based on the lovely eyelashes...


Or, even better, LEGOLand Deutschland in Günzburg (90 minutes from Munich or Stuttgart). Wow, I had NO idea this existed! And they run shuttles from the train station, making it incredibly easy for a day trip. From MINILAND (a 1:20 scale model of major European cities) to recreations of scenes from StarWars to roller coasters and shopping....Herr J, when are we going???


Munich Zoo - Birds

This is our third photoblog-style post after a visit to the Munich Zoo in June.  First a baby elephant, then lions & bears, and now some birds.

Like a number of zoos, Munich has peacocks and peahens that are free to roam the grounds -- although they prefer to stay in one of the large protected pens.  We photographed them in various states of "dress".  At first, we were surprised to see one perched on a low hanging tree branch... you usually see them on the ground. 


We also found them walking around with their plumage simply trailing behind...

And then, of course, the peacocks had to try and impress the ladies.  Out came the full display of color and texture.

In the same area were the Grey Crowned Cranes (Grauhals-Kronenkranich auf Deutsch).

This pair had built a huge nest in the pond, not much more than 10 feet from our viewing spot. We'll have to go back and see what hatches from the eggs. We have no idea what the babies look like!

These guys come from sub-Saharan Africa. Despite the fact that they weren't competing for mates (and that the guy has obviously already found one!), the cranes liked to join in when the male peacocks were showing off, fluffing up their feathers and sounding their loud calls to compete with the peacocks. Gorgeous feathers!

To be honest, I'm not sure if this is an Emu or an Ostrich (the zoo has both), but you'll find him wandering around the field with the llama and some other small animals.

And at the end of the day we have the Great Comorants. Not at all endangered, these diving birds have beautiful feather patterns, which they often show off for us when they dry their wings.  It almost looks fake - very cool.

Comorant mating season also is in full swing, with nesting pairs throughout the exhibit. This guy was determined to ruin a good picture with his bathroom break!  The perils of trying to shoot animals....

Next to the comorants we have the African Pink Pelicans. These most likely are juveniles, as they still have some brown in their feathers.  It's late in the day now, and time for them to sleep after a long day of sunning, preening, and being fed by the zookeepers. Wait, are we back at the lion exhibit???

And finally our burst of sunshine, a Blue and Yellow Macaw snacking on some fruit.



Munich Zoo - Large Carnivores

Lions, tigers, and bears.  The stuff of classic movies and some of the main attractions at every zoo.  Munich is no different, especially with their new Polar Bear exhibit.  We posted photos of the new baby elephant recently, but we also captured shots that day of some even wilder things.

Lions are funny, because we know they can be ferocious but usually find them sleeping.  All day.  Fortunately, the zoo lists feeding times for the lions & other animals, so this is the chance to see them actually move.  We found the lioness initially lying down, but when she heard the keeper's keys jingling she raised her head in interest.  Barely.


She then yawned a half-dozen times, stretched, groomed, yawned again, and THEN made her way to the food.  Still looking half asleep and completely oblivious to the people crowded around watching.  I have heard that their house-cat cousins are much the same...


After dining, she paced around for a few minutes.  It's the easiest wildlife photography we'll ever do -- an animal moving slowly about the same circular path, over and over and over.  Then she was back napping.


The Polar bears have a new exhibit, and it's great (for us and them, it's claimed).  The pen is long and relatively narrow, giving the bears room to roam but always in sight of the visitors.  This overview from the Zoo web site:

The bears have lots of toys, as usual - here is one of the two hanging out in the water, chomping on a plastic drum.

There are two of them - male and female.  Honestly, I'm not sure who this is playing.

The highlight was when one of the bears climbed out of the water and up on the "rocks", then dove into the water!  Frau A was quick with the camera and caught it in photos!  A real crowd pleaser - hugh splash but not nearly wide enough to get over the "panzer glass" lining the pen.


Frau A also got a great photo of the bear shaking off water after the dive.  There was a lot of activity from the bears, so a large crowd amassed and stayed around the exhibit.  We had to pull ourselves away to see other animals.

Lions... bears...... but no tigers in this post.  Sorry.  We didn't make it to the tiger part of the zoo this time.  How about European Wolves, key figures in German fairy tales (Little Red Riding Hood...)? 


The wolves were also quite active, in a dog-like way.  They would circle their large area constantly, taking occasional breaks to lie down or socialize.  They weren't running, but moving pretty fast though, and the light was somewhat dim -- so we learned then how difficult "wildlife" photography must be.  It took a lot of failed attempts before we captured good shots of the jogging wolves, especially when they're coming at you (continuous focus is easier when something moves across the frame, equidistant from you -- rather than toward or away from you).


When they paused to kiss, Frau A captured the moment.  In this "wildlife" photography we really learned the advantage the professional cameras like her Nikon D700 bring, vs. my nice-but-clearly-amateur Olympus Pen (and for sports too).  She could focus faster, maintain focus, and get off more shots per second.

This one stopped and ventured right to the edge of their area (before the "moat" and fence that keeps them from escaping).  He looked up briefly to check us out, then went back to jogging and playing.  European wolves are smaller than their North American relatives, but just as beautiful.


Coming in a future post - sea lions!


Munich Zoo - Elephant Baby

One thing that always drives traffic to a blog... baby animals!

On May 6, the Munich Zoo welcomed a new Asian elephant boy -- 117 kilograms and almost a meter tall at birth!  (No name has been given on the zoo web site yet.) Frau A and I went to see if we could "meet" him.  Even though the Elephant House is closed for renovation, we got lucky:  the weather was nice enough so they let mom "Temi" and son outside for a little while.

Here he is:


The time outside was a mixture of fun and training (training for Temi only, of course).  At the start, Temi marched out carrying a tire (with ease), and the new baby at her side.  She stopped for a pose and we grabbed a photo.


The keepers had a watermelon on the ground for them.  Temi stepped on it right away to open it, but baby was more interested in playing with a pink towel.  They eat the watermelon rind too, by the way.


Sometimes his trunk did not have the full dexterity needed to pick up the towel, so he used his foot to help.  So cute.  He'd thrash the towel around a bit with his trunk, then get bored and turn back to mom.


Temi really liked in the watermelon and chowed down.  (BTW:  notice the towel in the keeper's pocket for playtime, and the stick for training.  Also, he would tell onlookers what is happening with the wireless microphone, but only while interacting with other adult elephants, NOT mom and baby.)

Since Temi did the work to open the melon, baby could grab a snack too.
From a nice safe place underneath mom, of course.


Here's another gratuitous close-up of the baby.  Really adorable, afro & all.


After the snack, the trainer worked with Temi for a few minutes on training and tricks.   Here she is practicing with the keeper's hat, taking it off and putting it back on again.  The trunk is amazing - strong enough to throw a tire around but nimble enough to manage this.


In this shot, the keeper used his training stick to ask Temi to sit.  She then rolled onto her side close to baby and startled him - he shrieked for a second.  Then everything was back to normal.


Yup, this guy is really cute, but Temi is beautiful too.  There are some of the animals that you wish you could get in there and interact with... Frau A would take 'em both home if she could.


We'll head back later this summer to see how baby and Temi are doing...