WARNING: THIS POST IS PICTURE-INTENSIVE.
The Philadelphia Zoo is the nation's first zoo, and (as they very proudly and prominently tell you every chance they get) one of the only or THE only zoo that has breeding programs for certain species of animals. Patrick and I had planned on having a date yesterday, but by Saturday we were still hemming and hawing over what we were going to do. On the way up to visit Em, I saw signs for the zoo, and so I sent him a text message, half-joking, that we should go to the zoo. I expected him to be a little hesitant if not totally unwilling, but I got a response saying, "Yeah, sure!" So Tuesday rolled around, and we departed for the zoo.
It was $12 parking, and $18 for adult admission tickets, but we knew it would be pricey to get in, so we shrugged it off. We'd eaten shortly before we had left, so we also managed to avoid the price of food (which was ridiculous, of course). We got a map just in case we got lost, but planned to basically just wander around at random.
It was a nice day at first, with clouds sometimes covering the sun. There was a chilly breeze, but it's still early April and we expected that so it was nothing we weren't ready for. A lot of the animals were inside because of that though, especially the African and Australian ones.
And now, for the pictures.
Patrick got caught off guard when I stopped behind him for a sec, called his name, and he turned around to a camera pointed at him. It's normally hard to get him to stop for a good shot, and with his hair that red-orange (I call it Weasely Red in my head, after JKRowling's Weasely family) it often doesn't come out right. I like this one, though, because I caught him in the middle of a laugh, so he's smiling for real.
This guy right here is an aquatic turtle, though I forget exactly what kind. Diamondback turtle, maybe? He was pretty active when he slipped underwater, so the only way I could get a picture of him was when he came up for air, and that made the water refraction kind of distort the picture. He was about eight inches from head to tail.
And these two right here are just regular ol' box turtles. These especially, but almost all turtles are endangered because people hunt them to sell as pets. Most of the land turtles sold as pets in the northeast US are caught in the wild. It's actually illegal to buy or sell turtles in New Jersey, which is just one of the many legilative measures being taken to help these poor creatures. Because the demand for them is so high, people are capturing more than are born each year, so their numbers in the wild are dwindling.
These guys are Pine Barrens tree frogs, and you can hear them at night especially in the summer all around you when you go camping. The live mostly in the lowland areas near the cedar bogs and swamps, but if you camp anywhere near the Mullica or Batsto rivers, chances are if you look you'll find them easily.
I have to admit, I forget what this guy is, but he was just sitting there, staring out the glass at me, and it seemed like he was saying, "I'm posing now, so take the picture before I get tired, fool." So I took the picture and made way for the herd of small children that entered the reptile house right behind us. I didn't get a chance to read up on what he was.
This hyperactive dude right here would NOT stay still enough for a picture. I think I upset him somehow, because he slithered right up to the glass and stood up and started swaying at me, sticking his tongue out a lot. I'm not very familiar with snake behavior, but I took my picture and moved on, because I didn't want to disturb him too much.
These two massive snakes are green anacondas, and Patrick and I spent a good few minutes just watching the brighter-colored one move around slowly in the water. The way snakes move fascinates us. I know it's the scales on their stomachs and those incredibly strong and developed muscles, but it's still so strange to watch.
This frightening monstrosity of a creature is an alligator snapping turtle. He looks like something from before recorded time, but he's apparently not. They live mostly in the Mississppi River and southwestern bodies of water, but some live as far north as the Missouri River as well.
Outside, we ran into these incredibly hairy smelly creatures, which are apparently Scottish Highland Cattle. I immediately wondered what their hair was like and how it would spin up into yarn.
The rhinos were being lazy...
...and the elephants were anti-social.
The lions were sunbathing in a corner, so it was a little hard to get a good picture, especially with the crowd of rowdy grade-school kids who were flocking to the glass to annoy the poor lions. They did their best to ignore it, though.
The tigers were doing laps of their enclosure to give us a good show, I think, and one kept walking right up past the glass, so I couldn't pass up a shot.
The peacocks blended in with their rocky background too much for a good picture, and the cheetahs were giving a show, but it was too far back for my zoom to catch. Unfortunately, they also blended in with their surroundings. Which is odd, considering that they are a yellowy-faun and the ground around them was brown and patchy green.
The monkeys were very active and they also eluded photographic capture, which is unfortunate, because they were being the very picture of how you'd think primates act. The otters were the same way. They were playing with each other and wrestling for the benefit of the people watching, and it was really fun to watch. They were camera shy, though, and as soon as someone pulled out a camera or even a phone (a few people tried phones to see if they could get a picture that way) they hid their faces or just swam away entirely. I managed to get this of one who was playing for the benefit of a few young children and I caught him while he was distracted. Success!
The amur leopard was just sitting and staring in a way that made me think of my cats at home. He had the most beautiful pale blue-gray eyes. I had a staring contest with him, but he won.
The giraffes were on parade, but I was too slow to catch them all marching around in circles. I did, however, manage to get the two that were going back and forth in file in the front of their enclosure.
And the flamingos were sheltering in a sort of flock on their hill in the back, so all you can see in the picture is splotches of pink against a dark kind of green-brown background. Just a hint: those are the flamingos. Some of them were violently more pink than others, who were a sort of baby pink. It was interesting to see the difference.
The meerkat was definitely putting on a show for us. He sat on a rock about two and a half feet from the railing and just stared at everything. He was cute, but when he yawned and I saw teeth, I backed away a bit.
The giant jumping rat was asleep, so I took a quick picture and left him alone, but the Kea (which some of my Australian friends might be familiar with) is native to New Zealand. They're naturally incredibly curious and intelligent, and apparently some campers in their native area might find out that they are completely unafraid of humans... and like prying through and carrying off their things.
"It only takes a small group of concerned citizens to make a difference. After all, that's how all changes start, isn't it?"
~I forget exactly who, but she was a zoo patron/sponsor