Saturday, October 3, 2015
As usual, I had to hurry to keep up with the male members of the family, as we encountered -- depending on the section you were in-- the many shaded sections of the renown Memphis Zoo. It'd been a few years since I'd been to a big city zoo and wondered what to expect. Certainly, the map with the variety of animal sections, gave me a clue there was much to see and explore at the Memphis Zoo.
It was probably my first time seeing giant pandas face to face. And they were rather unimpressed with me. One was lying on his back, limbs to his side, in the middle of a nap. Probably. The other, behind Plexiglas (I assume) to keep us both protected, was working on a ton of eucalyptus leaves. Really, can't you try eating something else? No wonder they seem to sit there and have no energy!
Other sections of the zoo alternated between big open areas with a bridge you could cross to look down at the animals, or closer enclosures with Plexiglas and/or fencing. I thought the jaguar enclosure in the "Cat Country" section was a little cramped. But he (or she) was at the top of hill close to us, lounging around. (DID YOU KNOW THAT) Jaguars are the third largest "big cat" and the biggest cat in the Americas, a few traveling as far north as the southwestern U. S. ? Except for the mother and her young, they are said to be solitary animals with a various diet, from birds to eggs to even turtles and alligators. And they are a rather compact 200+ pounds of muscle, with those interesting spots on their tawny yellow backs that look like a black outlined circle with one or two smaller black dots in it. What they call a rosette.
It's too bad this rainforest (mostly) animal is endangered. Killing jaguars is prohibited in many Central American and a few South American countries. Since they are considered an "umbrella" species, protecting them and their habitat will help a great deal of little species in their habitat, as well.
At the "wild encounters" stage we caught the tail end of show on birds. A zoo staffer in khaki was interacting with a "double yellow headed" (Amazon) parrot "Keido" on her wooden perch and getting her to reproduce various sounds, like the sound of a growling "big cat" (you see the tie-in to above). And then really big birds flew overhead to perches that must have been over 20 feet above us and just outside of the amphitheater entrance! The flyovers were done by a huge flock of white birds which looked a bit like big doves, and the very colorful red macaws, a type of South American parrot. They aren't totally red, but mainly red on the head, back, underside and super long tail, with yellow and blue wings. The tail along looked to be three feet long! Actually, I read online (www.iaate.org) that their entire body is three feet long, half of it that long tail, but surprisingly, they only weigh a few pounds.
I was also impressed by the herpetarium (reptile house) and outdoor area of the elk and wolves. But we had a wedding to go to later in the day and didn't get to see everything. The t shirts weren't that cheap ($24 for adult large), but you could also buy more reasonably priced pens, post cards, little key chains and little animal figures.
As we left this museum with the Egyptian hieroglyphics at its front entrance with simple animal sculpture "animal cracker" shapes, I thought we got some good exercise and had a good visit to the zoo. There was even a part with mist coming off of big fans when you could stand and cool off!