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Visiting the Zoo

It is a widely held belief by some, that zoos are bad places, and then there are those who love zoos, and appreciate the good work that the folks there are doing. I'm in the latter camp.

With that in mind, about the middle of January I decided it was time to make a trip over to the Brevard Zoo in Melbourne, however, after perusing their website, I learned that they were expecting delivery of two zebras around Valentines Day, so I decided to wait, because Lord knows I wanted to see the zebras! Then, of course, life got in the way. Now that I am fully recovered, I could not wait to go, and so I did just that yesterday.

The weather, although quite warm, was perfect for a zoo visit because it was mostly cloudy which helps not only to keep a zoo-goer cool, but for photography, it is much better without the bright glare of the Florida sun. I hardly know where to start I saw so many great birds and animals....

After paying the $16.95 admission, I beelined it for the Africa area to wind my way around there and, of course, find the zebras. My first stop was the cheetah area. Making my way amongst hundreds of screaming school children, I got to the platform, and did see the cheetah, however, much like any cat, she was lounging in the shade. As to the screaming children--did I really go through that? Four sons! Were they that loud and rowdy? Whew! Probably so.
Next up was the zebra/white rhinoceros area.
Boo hoo! The zebras were far outside the range of my camera lens. Which reminds me, I took the Panasonic for the picture quality, however, I forgot one thing. I cannot manually adjust the focus on that lens which limits some of what you can do when confronted with cages, or fencing. Plus it is a shorter zoom, but all in all, I was most pleased with how these turned out. Lastly, on the camera front, the Panasonic weighs nearly a full pound less than the Nikon which doesn't seem like all that much, but having used both at times, I can assure you, it is an advantage. All this info because people always seem to be interested in the gear. :)

There is quite a long elevated platform that runs alongside where you see the rhinoceros. From that vantage point you can see the cute ring tailed lemurs, as well as the giraffes. A nice new addition since my last visit a couple of years ago.
While on that platform, I met a lovely volunteer who provided me with lots of great stories. She told me that the rhinos are slyly harassing the zebras. How is that, you ask? Two examples: where the zebras go, the rhinos often follow, pushing them out of their space. (nothing violent, just silent harrassment) Secondly, when it is time for the zebras to head into the barn for the night, the rhinos pace back in forth in front of the open doors to keep them out! Pictured on the right in the peach colored polo is the helpful volunteer.
She also mentioned that their shift is four hours long, but some of them love it so much, they stay all day! Of course I could not remember the types of giraffe that reside at the zoo, however, a quick search of types, tells me that the one in the photo above is a Masai giraffe, and the other, pictured below, is a Somali.
Now you know!

In this same area I saw some fantastic birds, and I mean fantastic. When they flew you could see the most beautiful red on their wings. This location was not ideal for photography, so I was delighted to find there were more in the aviary. Have you seen this type of bird before?
Here is the little cutie...
I wish I'd been able to get an inflight shot. :) I've changed the header on my blog to another gorgeous bird, the name of which I'm embarrassed to admit, I do not know. What I do know is, it beautiful!

Continuing my journey, I heard, amongst the screaming children, some loud calls, and I mean crazy loud. They kept coming and coming. At first I thought it was a recording or something, you know, to give a jungle vibe, however, it was not. These monkeys call could wake the dead!
Here's the validation...
The thing is, they kept calling and calling, eventually, I suspect, growing tired of hearing themselves. I, for one, was happy when they quit.

In the interest of brevity, or as close to brevity as I'm able, I probably will do another post, just because I saw so many wonderful things. But, that's another day. Carrying on, I made my way over to the petting zoo area to see an owl I photographed on my last visit. I found a second owl this time. A Barn Owl, residing at the zoo due to injury.
I nearly skipped one of the greatest sites yet, however, fortunately, I saw a young boy and his dad looking at the side of a big tank, and oh my goodness, was I glad I followed their lead. An American Stingray put on quite the show.
Having never seen anything like this before, I was dying with wonder! There is a pool cleaner called Creepy Crawly, and I couldn't help but think about that gadget while watching the action. Simply amazing, that little face and all. 

Then, just as I was leaving the area, Mr. Barn Owl, opened his wings and what a span it is.
Oh, but wait, there was a darling little girl petting the Giant Tortoise, as did this old lady.
The shell feels very neat indeed. How about those legs? Aren't they something?

There is a large Meerkat exhibit which is highly entertaining. Watching their industriousness can wear a person out.
Because it is a pretty fair assumption that I'll never visit Africa in person, I made three visits to the "faux" Africa. One, I was hoping to see the cheetah up and about, and two, I wanted to see the zebras, or ze-bras, as Angela calls them, up close. Finally on trip #3, they were out in the open. Aren't they just gorgeous? These are Grevy's zebra; here's more info in case you are interested.
Coincidentally, I took a photograph, on my way to the zoo, of one of the donkeys in the fields on Judge Road.
According to the article, the Grevy's zebras are the most donkey-like. Crazy, huh?

More good stuff where this came from---tune in for the next post!

Thanks for reading,
Gail

p.s. A Matt update--the radiation, or so they think, is the cause of his, what was once, only a sore throat, but as of now, is a full blown blockage and he can neither eat or drink. Once again they are in the hospital and today a feeding tube is going into his stomach for nutrition. Apparently it can be weeks before this horrible side effect abates. :(
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