As members of the Friends of the National Zoo, we were able to register for a sneak peak of the recently born lion cubs.
The young ones skittered at the new sight of a gawking crowd, but then started running and frolicking around their environment.
With one mom standing guard, glaring with intimidation at the people near her cubs, the other followed the goofballs, bonking them with her paws and biting their necks as if she had any control over them.
One cub did take a tumble off the side of a concrete ledge down the stairs to their indoor enclosure. The mom looked down with the same concern we gave Coco when, within her first day in our home, fell right over the stair ledge into the basement. Like Coco, the cub was just fine.
It was feeding time in the small mammal house when I was visiting a few weeks ago. This porcupine was eager awaiting the visit from his handler. He stood with anticipation on his branch, looking downwards towards the door where his friend would appear to feed him and give him attention.
As the handler entered his small habitat, he leaned down towards her, reaching out his legs as if to tap her on the back. She exited for a moment and he glared at the door, awaiting her return. When she came back, he leaned down even further to capture her attention.
Amazing how such an intimidating looking animal can be so goofy.
Of all the interactive animals at the zoo, the red pandas are probably the most people-focused.
On first viewing, standing on the trail above their habitat, I sneaked up on the two red pandas as they were wandering about the trees and rocks. Finally one spotted me; the big eyes and puffy face looked interested on its fat frozen body. The fact that the red pandas instantly remind me of our Coco cat made me react as if it were a house feline, and I instinctively took the ornery look as a sign for play, and I ducked down, shielding myself from view of the critter.
Then I peeked at the red panda, who was glaring at me with intensity.
It started hopping up the rocks, stalking me with wide eyes. I kept ducking away from it, keeping obstacles of trees and rocks partially between me and the curious animal. Finally, the red panda reached the top of its environment, and I revealed myself to stare down at it with only a dozen or so feet between us.
Then it ran off, back to its morning wanderings.
Later, when walking on the path near the lower side of the red panda's environment, a zoo worker stood at the higher trail where I had recently been. She called both the red panda's names who, in turn, tore up the rocks and trees to see her.
They are, without much question, one of my favorite visits in the zoo.
This was the first time I had ever caught the fishing cat sitting still, posing nicely for a picture. It was also exciting to see that the fishing cat apparently shares the same genes that provide the classic "leave me alone, I'm trying to sleep" look that our house cats get.
Leave me alone.
Leave me alone.
Leave us alone.
I decided to wake early today to take one more trip to the zoo before the holidays hit full speed.
I arrived right at sunrise, awaking the Manned Wolves from their den, and trudged up to the bird area as faint rays of light broke through the trees. The birds, I'm convinced, love showing off for people early in the morning. The crane that follows below walked before me, stood tall on a tree stump, and then flaunted its wingspan before engaging in a small battle with its roommate.
Out and about last weekend. I enjoy their happy cat faces.
I got there right at feeding time. A 125 shutter speed, in retrospect, wasn't nearly fast enough to capture them without blurring.
This one always hides from me. On my previous visit to the zoo, she ran and hid in her home as soon as I came near the cage. For this visit, she sat in a sleepy pose, only once looking alert when a bird flew close to her cage.
I'm not sure what they fed her (nor do I really want to know), but she sure did like it.
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