The Hoppy Okapi

Occasional posts about hiking and other stuff

To the Zoo! January 11, 2009

Our San Diego Zoo membership gives us access to monthly early-hours events at the zoo (and quarterly ones at the Wild Animal Park), and occasionally we even manage to go! Yesterday we woke up early and headed over to Influx for some coffee and The Best Pastries Ever before heading over to the zoo.

photo from influxcafe.com

We got to the zoo just as they began letting people in at 8am – there were probably about 100 people attending the early-hours program – and shuffled our way to the morning’s presentation at the Guinea Singing Dogs exhibit. There, we watched two 14-week-old cubs play around with dad as mom watched from a hill-top perch. The pups were so cute!

Guinea Singing Dog pup

Guinea Singing Dog pup

Guinea pup exploring his enclosure

Guinea pup exploring his enclosure

Next door to the singing dog presentation, a keeper was also talking about (but not sharing a cage with!) the stripped hyenas. I think these guys are usually sleeping when we walk by, because I was surprised by how big they are when they’re up and active.

A Striped Hyena

A Striped Hyena

After leaving the hyenas, we went down to check on the warthogs. There were five of them in the enclosue, including the gnarled old male with giant warts and crooked tusks.

Warthog on a walkabout

Warthog on a walkabout

When one of his friends woke up, the big male retreated to his warthog cave – trying to hide?

Warthog Cave!

Warthog Cave!

We then headed up through bear canyon to elephant mesa, where we saw a mob of meerkats taking in the morning sun.

Meerkats

Meerkats

Meerkats

Meerkats

More Meerkats!

More Meerkats!

The Baird’s tapirs were already sleeping by the time we visited them:

Baird's Tapir - Count the toes!

Baird's Tapir - Count the toes!

But the pack of capybaras (they’ve multipled! there used to be two but there were at least ten yesterday!) that share their enclosure were awake and quite skittish, running away every time the guanaco came close to them.

Capybaras

Capybaras

The giant anteaters were hiding out of site, and the Giant Vietnamese Squirrel was apparently too tiny to see, but we got a very close up view of the two rhinos on elephant mesa:

rhino head

rhino head

friendly rhinos

friendly rhinos

And the giraffes were enjoying a morning in the sun.

Baby Giraffe

Baby Giraffe

Giraffe eating breakfast

Giraffe eating breakfast

We then headed down tiger river (the three young tigers were snuggled in close to the glass at the first viewing window), and came to the Malayan tapir enclosure for what turned out to be the highlight of the day. Chukai, Chantek, and Annie were quite active and very vocal, chasing each other around the enclosure and the pool. We heard a lot of the typical tapir squealing, but also a coughing/sneezing-sounding noise that we hadn’t heard tapirs make before.

Malayan Tapirs in the pool

Malayan Tapirs in the pool

Looking for apples in the pool

Looking for apples in the pool

Tapirs everywhere

tapirs everywhere!

After our lengthy stay at the tapir enclosure, we stopped by to see the okapis, and then walked over to see the Harpy Eagles before heading home.

Okapi hiding in the trees

Okapi hiding in the trees

 

Cuddly Baby Okapi! August 23, 2008

We stopped by the Wild Animal Park this afternoon on our way back from Temecula, and were lucky enough to see Zuri, the baby okapi born in June. Pictures of adult and baby okapis below, plus a warthog, a tortoise, some lions, and a special “native mule deer of the Wild Animal Park” spotting…

 

Memorial Day at the Zoo June 4, 2008

One of the great things about living in San Diego is having a Zoological Society membership. Not only do we get to learn about and contribute to the conservation and education efforts of the zoological society, but we also get unlimited access to visit one of the best zoos in the world. For me, visiting the zoo (or Wild Animal Park in Escondido) is a nice, relaxing weekend morning activity, like a stroll in the park or a light hike. So when I found myself with a free day on Memorial Day while Chuck had to work, I headed over to the zoo for a leisurely morning. It was a beautiful morning, a little cool and grey to start out with, but sunny with dramatic clouds later on, perfect for a nice long walk to enjoy the flora and fauna.

The zoo was a bit crowded, especially on the Panda – Polar Bear Highway, where everyone crowds in to see the most popular exhibits. The line for panda viewing was so long that I skipped the exhibit, but I did see some amazingly cute baby Red River Hogs along the way – I think there were four hoglets, and as I walked up they were following their mother to the back of the exhibit – they practically ran her down and knocked her over so they could nurse. I wandered off and came back a few minutes later, hoping they were close enough for a picture, but by then they were asleep in the hay, tiny striped bundles of cuteness so well-camouflaged that most passers-by didn’t even notice.

It wasn’t a very good day for okapi pictures – there were three okapis in the enclosure, so it was good okapi viewing day, but they stayed too far away for me to get good pictures. (By the way, if you’re in the market for a stuffed okapi, ShopZoo.com has an excellent selection right now – seven varieties of okapis! The minis and the giant one are my favorites.) I did get some good pictures of the other animals though – check it out:

Giraffes In Symmetrical Poses:
Giraffes in Symmetrical Pose

Baird’s Tapir, Sleeping Under a Tree:

Malayan Tapir eating breakfast:

Koala – surprisingly active (which is to say, not yet asleep in his chosen tree!):

Wombat – I think wombats are my new animal obsession! This was the first time I’ve seen them on exhibit at the zoo (where had they been hiding before?) Aren’t they cuddly?!?!?!? Must buy stuffed wombat.

Warthog – the warthogs were not very active when I stopped by, but there were five of them out, and I got a good sleeping-in-dirt picture:

Meerkat – Like the red river hogs, the meerkats seemed to be enjoying a baby boom – there were probably 6 or 8 young meerkats in the back enclosure (the one past the kopje, rather than the one on elephant mesa, if you know the zoo), and a few of them posed for me:

Klipspringer – Speaking of the kopje, it was a good day there as well – I got to see all of the residents – mongeese and klipspringers relaxing in plain sight, and rock hyraxes peeking out from the rocks above. My best klipspringer shot:

Polar Bear: Saving the best picture for last! It was VERY crowded at Polar Bear Plunge, and for good reason! The bears were quite playful, chasing each other around the exhibit, diving into the pool to escape, and then play-fighting back on land. Like all animals at the zoo, these guys are often just sleeping or lounging around, so it’s a real treat to see them displaying different behaviors, and I had very good timing:

After two hours at the zoo, I headed into Hillcrest for another treat on my day off – lunch at Bread & Cie. I had a delicious mozzarella, tomato, red pepper and olive-spread sandwich on focaccia, and took a mini-loaf of seeded sourdough home with me to enjoy with my ginger and golden carrot soup. Yum!

PS – Another great site for plush animals is Interfauna.co.uk. They’re in the UK, so prices can be a little bit daunting for those of us in the US with the current exchange rates, but their selection and quality is excellent. I’ve purchased two okapis and several tapirs from them in the past, they’re highly recommended.

 

 
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