Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge seemed like a good opportunity to share these shots that I captured at Brookfield Zoo the other day. As any of you who have been following these posts for any amount of time will know, there is no way I’m going in the bird houses at the zoo. But large birds, outside, are not quite so terrifying, even if the bald eagle did give me quite the glare.
The peacock had lost most of its tail feathers but still looked very colorful and appeared to be sporting some rather snazzy legwear.
Now that the days are somewhat cooler, I thought I would take the opportunity to visit Brookfield Zoo. The Zoo is quite large, covering some 216 acres, so I’ve found that it’s much easier to focus on one or two areas rather than trying to take in everything in one visit. My favorite animals to watch are the big cats like the snow leopards, lions and the Amur leopard.
There was quite a scrap going on between the two snow leopards when I got there. The last time I was at the zoo it was a combination of mother and daughter that was on view, but this time, the younger female having been sent to another zoo, it was a male and female. No wonder they were fighting!
The lions, brother Brutus and Titus, were doing their usual lazing around, still managing to look majestic in the process.
And the Amur leopard kept up a constant keen-eyed vigil, pacing up and down, watching for any unsuspecting chipmunk or mouse that might come into play.
Meanwhile, over by the bears, the sloth bears were not exactly living up to their name, showing quite a bit of activity, probably because of the cooler weather. One even looked like it was whistling a tune, or maybe it was just pouting for the camera like some female celebrity wannabe.
Grizzly bear Axhi was busy tearing into a coconut and had absolutely no intention of sharing. Speaking of bears, Well done, Chicago Bears! Another win! They have already exceeded many people’s expectations.
Over at the Seven Seas area, the sea lions were making a lot of noise and one appeared to have heard a hilarious joke, beginning with a stifled titter and ending in roars of laughter. Goodness knows we could all do with a good laugh from time to time.
This week, Ann-Christine has suggested Memorable Events as the topic for the Lens-Artists PhotoChallenge. This is usually the time of year when I have a hard time coming up with fresh material so it’s nice to be able to go back into the photo files for this one, although I still prefer to share images that haven’t been used before. It’s always satisfying to know that a day’s shooting has been reasonably successful and last year I had some memorable moments at Brookfield Zoo when I was fairly confident that I’d come away with at least a few good shots.
During much of the pandemic, the gorilla enclosure had been closed so I cheated a bit with the first shot, capturing instead an image of the new statue that had just been installed near the entrance.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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