It is understandable that 99% of all people plan zoo visits in the hope of sunny weather, as they do for hiking trips and fieldworks, for example. However, as opposed to the latter two, danger in the form of slippery rocks, flash floods, and so on, does not exist at typical zoos. On the contrary, rainy days at zoos can be quite an advantage. First of all, people often do not think things through and, getting scared by two drops of rain, shun outdoor activities of all kinds. Not necessary, because there are so many houses in typical zoos that you can spend weeks rushing from one indoor place to the next. And as many animals also like to stay out of the rain, indoors is where you will find most of them on rainy days. No need to stand around in a downpour, desperately trying to protect your camera from the deluge. Now, you’ll be cosy and warm, as will be the animals – and you’ll be almost alone! That’s a huge benefit, as the houses normally echoing with kids’ laughter and crying are silent, the animals are calmer, and you end up getting to see a lot more behaviour than on a usual crazy sunny summer day. Or at least you can quietly watch and photograph animals in a way you never can on days where hordes of ice cream-fingered little tyrants and thoughless adults create all kinds of noise and chaos.
Lion (Panthera leo) fore and hind paws. I had been trying to get such photos each time I visited the Zoo Berlin, but the lions would sleep only with their backs to the visitors. Obviously, the throng was too much for them and they turned their backs to it – yesterday they didn’t show this typical alignment at all, and I finally got my paw shots!
Or my visit to Marwell Zoo this spring – also a rainy day, and man did we see interesting stuff! Even expert UK zoo goer Dave Hone was pleasantly surprised! Zebras fighting, giraffes galloping, and much much more! I still have about ten more posts to write about this one day visit.
Rook in the rain at Marwell Zoo.
Serval (Leptailurus serval) at Marwell Zoo playing with an already pretty large young. They were not shy at all, but then, there were very few people around, and nobody was making noise.
OK, don’t get me wrong – I do not think you should plan to go to a zoo to experience this:
But if it happens – well, there is watertight clothing if you need it, so get some! I stupidly wore normal jeans, which were soaking wet within seconds, but hey, I can live with that. my jacket proved watertight, as advertised. My backpack did not, but I had wisely hung my camera around my neck and stuffed it under the jacket, so it was safe.
Oh, by the way: there is another advantage to dark grey sky: they do not mirror well in water!
California sea lion (Zalophus californianus) playing with the visitors. You won’t see this if there is a crowd, but if things are quite the sea lions will dive figure-of-8s for the children, while others sneak in near the bottom and suddenly pop up to blow bubbles and so on. I watched one for about 10 minutes throwing an acorn a few feet, then diving after it again and again, obviously enjoying the hoots of the three children watching.
Admittedly, having to shoot at 1600 ISO and up and using only the lowest 1/3 of the zoom lens range sucks a bit, but then zoos do let you get very close to the animals anyways.