For me Earth Day 2012 began with a one hour visit to the San Diego Zoo, mainly because I needed to go down to Balboa Park early to find parking before the crowds for Earth Fair hit. Ran into my friend Steve who works in admissions.
Since I knew it would be a short visit I planned for some of the most interesting animals to photograph. I first went to see the Malayan Tigers being released into their enclosure, which happens every morning at 9:20. The three tigers ran out to find the piles of breakfast meat the keepers left out for them. All my photos of them turned out a bit dark or blurry.
After that I walked further down Tiger Trail to see the hippos, Funani and her fifteen month old son Adhama. They were both snoozing against the glass so I got some good close-ups of Adhama.
Once I got my three million shots of Adhama I headed over to the Giant Pandas. Unfortunately, Gao Gao was sleeping, facing away from the viewers. Bai Yun on the other hand was sitting facing us, chomping away on a large bamboo stock. She was a bit farther away than I like but I still took plenty of photos.
Then I walked down Panda Canyon and went to see one of my newest favorite animals, the Babirusa. It looks like a bizarre hog but acts just like a curious dog. There is a half wall separating the two of them from the visitors walking by. If I stop and show interest in them at least one will come by, jump up with its front hooves on the wall and stick its snout out to be touched. Last time I didn’t reach over so as not to be a bad example to anyone nearby. Since there was no one else around this time I reached out and let it smell the back of my hand. Since it spends a lot of time burrowing in the dirt it left a muddy snout print on my hand. But I didn’t mind. I had a cool encounter with a very different-looking wild animal. Kind of like shaking hands with Lady Gaga.
I walked back up the hill to visit the newest cats at the Zoo, the extremely rare and critically endangered Amur Leopards, of which the Zoo has three. In the wild there are fewer than fifty left. Unfortunately photos of them today just weren’t working out.
Then I headed up to see if the Gorillas were active. Luckily they had just been given pine cones and were having fun trying to pick treats out of them, so I did get a few shots in.
From the Gorillas I mozied on over to the Orangutans who were a bit too far away for any decent shots.
So ended my one hour at the Zoo. Overall a pretty good visit.
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