Zoo visits in fall

Sometimes, life is like a box of jaguars: you never know what colour you get!

Jaguar mom and three not-so-little-anymore ones (Panthera onca).

I recently explained why I love going to zoos on rainy days. Similar reasons apply to visits in fall, especially when the weather has turned cool enough to keep many people indoors. Also, many animals are in mating season in fall, others have young that now are old enough to running around exploring a lot more than in summer. Some animals from temperate zones are in their pre-hibernation grab-all-you-can-eat hustle – all in all lots of activity!

For example, these Sable antelopes (Hippotragus niger): the young buck is trying to beat his older sibling and gets taught a rough lesson.

Note that he is NOT down on his wrists because he is losing, but that both animals are down, trying to improve the angle of their horns versus the opponents neck! I specifically sought out the Sable antelopes in the hope of getting good photos of this, need them urgently for a paper. I had some taken at Marwell zoo earlier this year, but only through a fence and with a slight rise in the ground hiding the forefeet.

And here you see the young buck losing: the older one shoved him aside, forcing him to get back up in the forelimbs, and now he cannot regain good footing as the older animal can use the full strength of the neck extensors to lift and toss him.

More action happened on the moat around an enclosure for some kind of lama or guanaco: Hooded mergansers (Lophodytes cucullatus) showing off! There were five males in all, making a lot of low, rumbling noises and flashing their hoods at each other and the girls. I didn’t get a good shot of the females, though – they keep to the shade of a bush and it was just too dark for any tolerable exposure.

 

And no, these are NOT in the genus Mergus anymore.

But now for even greater show-offs. Kagu – ever heard of that bird? Dinosaurian diversity today is amazing, and it always makes me wonder how much we’re missing in the Mesozoic.

Rather dull birds, hu? They live in the forests and shrubland of New Caledonia – yeah, that’s those islands “near” Australia’s East Coast that belong to France. Kagus (Rhynochetos jubatus) are a bit odd in their taxonomy, as they are the sole members of their family, and were long thought to be an odd sort of crane. Not so, says more recent research; they seem to be the sister group or so of sunbitterns – another weird one-of-a-kind taxon. Relation to the Gruiformes? Questionable at best…. To me they look like a breeding experiment gone wrong, one involving Eurasian bitterns, miniature storks, kiwis and some gulls. Oh, and Kagus are flightless, although their wings are of normal size, hence the kiwi makes sense. Dull……..

wowza! Ok, I see what those wings are needed for……

 

all that action in only one day – must be fall! But hey, it’s not over yet. There’s the Brahminy kites (Haliastur indus), who are terribly excited, too!

Simply can’t sit still……..
(please excuse the blurry white areas, this was photographed through a wire cage)

This is my spot. MINE! You here what I’m sayin’?

MINE!!!!!!!

Ganging up on me, hu? OK, I’m off!

and already the two victorious kites are fighting over the just-won spot…… I could watch such action for hours on end!

This day, by the way, was fairly typical of what I experience in zoos in fall. One reason that just came to my mind why animals seem so much more active is, of course, the reduced number of daylight hours available. Getting the same activities into fewer hours means less time lazing around.

For the finale, here’s a picture of an idiot and a very active Indian rhino (Rhinoceros unicornis) with a cold.

Why oh why is it necessary to stand in line to touch a sick rhino’s nose??? I could see the snot running from meters away, and even if the animal was healthy I’d stay away and not touch it. This is not a hen or sparrow, or a zebra – there’s gazillions of them, and if you happen to infect or otherwise harm one (which is highly unlikely) and it died that would not be nice, but it would not be a tragedy. A rhino????? get your dirty mitts off it, for fuck’s sake!

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About Heinrich Mallison

I'm a dinosaur biomech guy working at the Museum für Naturkunde Berlin.
This entry was posted in Aves, Dinopics, Dinosauria, Mammal pic, Mammalia, Maniraptora, Theropoda, Zoos. Bookmark the permalink.

12 Responses to Zoo visits in fall

  1. himmapaan says:

    Love this post!

    Gosh, that is one extremely inquisitive rhino, to have come so close and perched on that moat edge! That hand looks as though it belongs to a rather young person. Did it?

    • in her 20s, I’d say.

      The rhino wanted to be fed apples and carrots :) People were at first feeding it a lot of stuff, but when several people muttered nasty things about feeding the rhino the perpetrators stopped.

  2. albertonykus says:

    Very much agreed on zoo visits in fall. Headed over to the National Zoo a few days ago and nearly all the carnivorans were awake and active, no joke.

    • this comment is useless without a link to a post with pics ;)

      • albertonykus says:

        Damnit, and that just happened to be one of the few times I didn’t take any pictures. :D Having just finished a glut of zoo posts on my blog I hadn’t wanted to build up another, and hadn’t expected such greatness (having had little experience in visiting outdoor animal exhibits in fall and comparing to visits during other seasons). I’ll head over there again sooner or later and see what I can get.

  3. Herman Diaz says:

    “Why oh why is it necessary to stand in line to touch a sick rhino’s nose???”

    I’m surprised I’m the only 1 reminded of the sick Triceratops in JP. However, I’m even more surprised visitors can get that close to a rhino (captive or otherwise). I mean, is no 1 (especially zoo staff) worried about anyone/anything getting hurt/killed? Please correct me if I’m wrong.

    • well, there is quite a trench between the rhino and the visitors, but if you really stretch and the rhino really puts its toes on the edge of the trench it can reach your outstretched hand. Rhinos have fairly long necks and especially skulls. But nothing will stop the idiots, see here.

      and LOL at Trike – I remembered, too!

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