I’ve got tons and tons of photos from Mill Mountain Zoo where I volunteer, so I’m sorry if you get sick of seeing them, but I never do. I could stare and stare at those animals all day everyday and never get bored. But I’m trying to get a variety of photos of ALL the animals. I’m trying to explore new angles and new lighting. It’s a different experience every time I visit, so it’s incredibly inspiring. I still need lots of practice, but I love the work, so I’m happy to practice, practice, practice. =)
This is Tweedle and Dee. They are barn owls. I’m absolutely fascinated by owls.
There are lots of legends and lore surrounding owls. Barn owls especially used to be incredibly intimidating to farmers. They can make a range of vocalizations including a shrieking sound that sounds like a woman screaming. You can understand how intimidating that might be in olden days with no flashlights to walk into a dark barn and suddenly hear a scream and also to possibly see a flash of white fly by. They were often thought to be ghosts or spirits.
But these two are anything but intimidating in this scene. They reminded me more of angels then ghosts or angry spirits.
These are some of our hoofstock.
Dexter (the largest animal in this scene) is a dwarf zebu. That’s a domesticated type of cattle from India. Dexter is great. He knows his name and he comes running if you call him over. He loves to be scratched and rubbed. He has some of the most beautiful eyes ever, and any girl would be envious of his eyelashes. He’s kind of a stud.
The ladies (Dexter is the only male in the hoofstock exhibit) love him and he loves them right back. Look at him grooming this goat. Dexter groomed this goat for a long time and both seemed to enjoy it equally. Like I said, Dexter is a stud.
The pigs are Vietnamese pot-bellied pigs and the goats are African pygmy goats.
This is Deagan Reed (I hope I spelled that right). He’s a red panda. Red pandas are actually more closely related to raccoons than giant pandas.
They are also known as firefoxes because of their fiery red coloring and their resemblance to foxes.
Last year our female had a baby with a different male. This year, we are hoping she and Deagan will produce cubs as well. Red pandas are part of the Species Survival Program.
This is a white-naped crane. I wanted to show you the nictitating membrane on the cranes eye. This is the eye without the membrane showing.
This is the eye with the membrane showing. These membranes are translucent and help protect and wipe debris from the eye. In birds, this is especially helpful when flying.
I think these are really interesting photos. The other day I went to visit our cougar, Nina. She was very intensely eating something, but I couldn’t tell what it was. I didn’t think it was her normal food. It was in between her feeding times.
She was really going to town, so I tried to get some photos thinking that maybe my lens could see more than I could.
I got a couple shots of the mystery prey. You can see where I circled what I think is a hind leg.
Here’s the photo without the red circle and text. I think Nina caught a chipmunk or rabbit. This is normal behavior for a predator and it’s actually good enrichment for her.
This is Colt. He is a red wolf. I’m sure I’ve probably talked about this before, but red wolves have a pretty incredible story. They were once the top predator in the Southeast United States. Persecution from humans drove them to near total extinction. In 1980 red wolves were declared extinct in the wild after the last 17 wolves were moved into captivity.
A captive breeding program began and we now have a small population of around 100-150 individuals in North Carolina.
These are blue bellied rollers.
I had so much fun photographing these guys.
Birds are fascinating in the ways that they can move and contort their feathers. They look so expressive.
It’s fun to watch them watching other things. It’s like watching a cat watch a laser pointer light.
It’s also fun and funny to watch them vocalize. They are incredibly entertaining.
Speaking of birds, this is a random native wild bird in a random tree at the zoo. Maybe it’s a robin? I’m not sure, but I love the way this photo turned out. This is definitely the inspiration for some future paintings I plan on creating.
More birds! I don’t recall the species of this bird, but I think she is in the dove family. I’ll try to figure out and update this post when I do. But I love her coloring.
And more birds! This is a black capped chickadee. Another native wild bird. The other day I was volunteering at the zoo and a child came up to me and asked if all of the animals would be inside enclosures. I said, “Not all of them.” And these are the types of creatures I was talking about. The zoo is full of exotic species of course, but we have all kinds of natural wildlife scurrying around as well. Chipmunks, lizards, frogs, turtles, snakes and plenty of birds are just some of the native species that abound throughout the zoo.
Native butterflies are also very attracted to the flowering plants at the zoo.
This one was a little higher than me, so it was hard to get a good shot, but she was really fun to watch.
China, our female snow leopard, is the epitome of nobility.
She’s just SO regal…
Bali, our male snow leopard, wore her out. Bali is only one year old and China played for a long time. But China eventually had enough and wanted to go to sleep and Bali needed to get a drink. Can you see the water droplets on his chin? He’s even cute when he drinks!