Tag Archive | Brookfield Zoo

Going, Going, Gone?

The Amur leopard, whose natural habitat is in the southeastern part of Russia and northern China, is listed as Critically Endangered and is probably one of the most rare cats alive today, with only about 90 animals surviving in the wild, which means that zoos like Brookfield are almost literally the last, best hope for these beautiful creatures.

Brookfield appears to have a successful breeding program. Their 10-year-old female leopard has produced four cubs in the past five years so, although the numbers may be dwindling in the wild, there is still hope that these magnificent cats may be saved from extinction. As with many such creatures, poaching and loss of habitat is largely responsible for their demise.

It took many hours and a lot of clicks to get these pictures but it was worth every second. Only by studying their behaviour and understanding the danger that these creatures face in the wild can we ever hope to prevent the disappearance of the Amur leopard.

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge – Your Inspiration

This week, Patti looks for our take on Inspiration for the Lens-Artists Photo Challenge. I recently spent some time with the lions at Brookfield Zoo and looking through the resulting images, I was inspired to write this little poem.

With thoughtful gaze and stealthy stride,

Behold the monarch of his pride,

Awaits the dawn with stoic grace

And measures out the time and place,

A kingdom of a lesser space.

What long forgotten freedom lies

Within the memory of these eyes?

To rule again, his roar imparts,

The plains of home from which life starts.

Your realm lies here, within our hearts.

Following the sad and untimely death of their two lions, Isis and Zenda, in 2020, Brookfield Zoo acquired two 4 year-old male African lions, brothers named Titus and Brutus, from Utah’s Hogle Zoo in Salt Lake City. It certainly is interesting to see how they are adjusting to their new home.

Brookfield Zoo is a participating institution in the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ African Lion Species Survival Plan. African lions are listed as ‘vulnerable’ according to the Red List of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, due to hunting and loss of habitat.

Snow in the Forecast

Snow leopards, that is. Here are a few of the images that I captured at Brookfield Zoo recently, when I spent some time with two of their snow leopards. It’s estimated that there are fewer than 10,000 mature individuals surviving in the wild and the numbers are expected to decline due to habitat destruction and poaching. As much as it saddens me to see these beautiful creatures confined to such a limited space, I fully recognize the need for conservation and the importance of the work that Brookfield and other places do to ensure that such endangered species survive.

Preparations

Despite the current pandemic, life goes on. Preparations must be made for future events such as Spring at the Chicago Botanic Garden. The last time I was there they were planting thousands of bulbs which will eventually provide a colorful display of flowers in every area of the garden but more especially in the Crescent Garden.

They were also getting ready for their annual outdoor holiday display of lights, which I see from their website is already sold out. It certainly helped to make up for the lack of flowers on this trip. From what I could make out, part of the display will include installations depicting star constellations which would explain why they had the moon dangling from the bridge to the Japanese Garden.

Meanwhile, over at Brookfield Zoo, they were draining the ponds in preparation for winter and getting ready for their ‘Holiday Magic’ light display. Outdoor displays like this are an excellent way to lift our spirits while wearing masks and maintaining safe distances between fellow visitors. I just hope the weather cooperates.

Hello Kitty!!

This is the first time in over 40 years that I’ve managed to get a half-way decent picture of the leopards at Brookfield Zoo. Just in the right place at the right time the other day.

I’m pretty sure, if you zoom in on the next picture, you can see a reflection of me, leaning against the fence, in his eyes. Possibly sizing me up as the next meal.

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge – Inspiration

This week, Tina has chosen Inspiration as the topic for the Lens-Artists Photo Challenge. With so many places closed down, travel restrictions in place and family gatherings limited because of Covid, and trips to the city put on indefinite hold because of increasing violence, I’ve been finding it hard lately to get motivated enough to get out and take pictures. I decided to look to the younger generation for some inspiration. Youngest granddaughter loves going to the zoo and great-grandson adores dinosaurs so yesterday I took my cue from them and headed over to Brookfield Zoo where by happy coincidence they are featuring a dinosaur exhibit. I think the kids would have approved.

Although the place was quite busy, most people wore masks and practiced social distancing and it was good to see families out there enjoying themselves, taking a break from all the turmoil that health, politics, social injustice and natural disasters has thrown at us this year.

Although the zoo itself is open, not surprisingly, all the indoor exhibits are closed which meant no pictures of gorillas in Tropic World and only a limited view of the bears. Add to this the fact that most of the animals were sleeping (when aren’t they?) and with the usual challenge of trying to get a decent shot through the intervening fences and wires, it proved to be an interesting exercise in zoo photography.

Despite so many of the attractions and services being unavailable, the zoo more than made up for it with the addition of the Dinosaur Exhibition. These prehistoric giants looked quite at home in their various settings and the animatronics and sound effects had all the kids (and some of the adults) squealing with excitement.

 

 

Lego At The Zoo

Having spent countless hours with the grandchildren, over the years, trying to make anything remotely recognizable out of Lego, I can appreciate how much work went into creating the more than 40 life-size creatures that featured in Brookfield Zoo’s Brick Safari this summer.

Do these creations qualify as sculptures? I’m not sure, but they are certainly works of art.

The resulting photos have the rather weird effect of looking over-pixelated ( if that’s the correct term.)

One of my favorites was Lance the Leopard who required 42,500 bricks and 340 hours to complete.

It took 375 hours and 110,000 bricks to make Grace the Giraffe who weighs in at 1,652 pounds.  That’s a lot of Lego!

The rhinoceros took 155,000 bricks and 403 hours to complete, while Eli the Elk took a mere 87,464 bricks. 

The grizzly bears were quite impressive, taking 136,569 bricks and 382 hours to build.  They looked quite at home in this woodland setting.

I’m not sure who worked on these amazing pieces but all I can say is, “Well done!”

 

Brookfield Bears

Next to the great apes, I think bears are probably my next most favorite animal to watch at the zoo. On this particular day, Hudson the Polar bear was taking a dip in the pool. And what better way to dry off afterwards than a luxurious roll in the grass.

Meanwhile, over in the next enclosure, a grizzly bear was homing in on some lettuce that had been thrown over the wall, while another was diving for carrots in the pool. I was impressed by it’s swimming skills, rather like an underwater ballet, and the ability to hold its breath for quite long periods of time while foraging for these tasty snacks.  To conclude, just let me say, “Go Bears!” both Brookfield and Chicago.

 

The Great Apes

Tropic World at Brookfield Zoo features monkeys, primates and other animals from South America, Africa and Asia and there’s no doubt that among my favorites are the orangutans. Watching their agile antics and the interaction between family members, it’s not difficult to see why they are considered among the most intelligent primates. It’s also a tragedy that they are now a critically endangered species thanks in no small part to poaching and habitat destruction in their native home of Borneo and Sumatra.

Another critically endangered species and arguably the stars of the show at Tropic World are the gorillas. As much as I love taking the grandkids to the zoo, it’s also nice to take a solo trip especially if I want to concentrate on photography and on this particular day I had plenty of time to watch these great apes as they went about their daily business, without being urged to move on to something else.

The babies are always popular, drawing lots of oohs and aahs from the crowd, and the juveniles get plenty of laughs with their boisterous play but when the old silverback male arrives on the scene everyone keeps a respectful distance.

When a tempting snack of lettuces is thrown into the enclosure, he grabs one for now and tucks another under his haunches for later consumption. He’s the boss and nobody is going to argue with that if they know what’s good for them.

Cats

From meerkats to cats. Big cats! Zoo animals are very much creatures of habit, doing more or less the same thing at the same time every day, so I knew exactly where to find the snow leopard. He was taking a snooze on the ledge right by the viewing window.

Both the lions and tiger were also taking their morning siesta. They can sleep like this for hours so I decided to walk around for a while and come back later in the hopes that they might actually be moving around.

This plan paid off, at least as far as the tiger was concerned. He was on the prowl having taken a dip in the pool (something that I just missed) and appeared to be looking for something. He padded around the enclosure a few times and settled down to chew on some grass.  Eventually, feeling that he’d fulfilled his obligation to entertain the customers, he returned to his ledge and went back to sleep.