2012 Photo Review

Under the Sea

It will be another 105 °F hot summer day here in Saint Louis, but under the sea it is only 68 °F, also here in Saint Louis. Today, the Saint Louis Zoo opened to the public its newest exhibit, “Sea Lion Sound”. Instead of my usual dawn patrol, I slept in a little and Anne got up a little early too. The end result was that we launched together towards Forest Park, before the heat had set in. The timing was right, so halfway through our bicycle ride we stopped off at the zoo and visited the new sea-lion exhibit.

Daughter: I don’t want to go underwater.
Mom: You won’t actually be underwater.

This mom would have been closer to the truth if she had told her daughter that, “You will be underwater, but you won’t get wet. That sounds a lot cooler and it was a lot cooler, both from a temperature and style point of view.

People forget that the animals that they are viewing also have eyes and that they see them too. This is most apparent when a new exhibit is opened to the public. While the public, as expected, went wild over the opening of the new sea-lion exhibit, so did the sea-lions. They were checking us out just as much as we were checking them out.

Modeled after the Northwest’s Pacific coastline, this exhibit features eleven new sea-lions in a marvelous looking new pool that replaces the old sea-lion exhibit area. As pictured above there are multiple windows that allow underwater viewing, culminating in a 35′ underwater plexiglass tunnel, where the sea and the lions surround you. As I mentioned above, the water is ‘climate-controlled”. No more Saint louis summer bath water for these lions of the sea. Having a blanket of chilled sea water all around you keeps the viewing tunnel quite comfortable.

Seeing the sea-lion exhibit is free, as is most of the zoo. The Saint Louis Zoo is arguably, the second best zoo in the country, but we are still trying even harder. Adjoining the new sea-lion exhibit is an also new amphitheater for the zoo’s traditional sea-lion show. This show was once held up the hill, next to ‘Big Cat Country’, but has now moved, co-locating all sea-lion activities. The sea-lion show is ticketed and is $4.

A couple of final asides: I always enjoy seeing pictured a geeky bicyclists, in a non-bicycling venue. Especially, if I am that cyclist. Being the cultural capital of a landlocked state, Saint Louis has scored a win with “Sea-Lion Sound”.

Under the sea
Darling it’s better
Down where it’s wetter
Take it from me
Up on the shore they work all day
Out in the sun they slave away
While we devotin’
Full time to floatin’
Under the sea
– “Under the Sea” from
“The Little Mermaid”

Penguin Bites Newt

Newt and Penguin

The first documented case of a penguin biting an amphibian occurred last Friday. This was not one of the Pittsburgh Penguins, but rather a penguin at the Saint Louis Zoo, who appears to not be a Newt Gingrich supporter. The Republican presidential candidate was sporting a small bandage on his finger after getting nipped by a penguin during his tour of the zoo on Friday. Gingrich was in Saint Louis to speak during the National Rifle Association’s annual meeting. During his visit to the zoo, he was treated to a behind-the-scenes visit with two Magellanic penguins. A spokesman for Mr. Gingrich said, Newt loves animals, but sometimes love hurts. This spokesman later conceded that maybe eating lunch at the Oyster Bar beforehand, was not a good idea. The penguin claims he mistook Gingrich’s fishy oratory for actual fish. #OccupySTLzoo plans to organize a defense fund for ‘this heroic little bird’. Attorneys for this flightless bird are planning a stand your ice floe defense.

Occupy Forest Park

Riding Upside Down

Have you ever had the opportunity to be scrutinized by a lawman? How about a gaggle of them? I had the good fortune to enjoy this experience today. Anne and I spent all of the morning trying to de-hovel the old homestead. Dan’s room in particular, was targeted for extraordinary rendition. Nink and Bob, et al, are arriving later this week for Andrew’s graduation, so more than the ordinary house-keeping is required. It looks a lot better, but I’m afraid that we’ll still have to issue our house guests bike helmets. There is still a lot of congestion at the head room level, what with all of Dan’s hanging objects d’art. I keep telling Anne that it will drive Bob crazy and she always says, “What’s wrong with that?”

Back to the lawmen, soon. I spent all morning running up and down two flights of steps, so by lunchtime, I was exhausted. Then I went for a bike ride. The weather was sunny, in the mid-thirties, cool, but bright. Ice was forming on the ponds. Steinberg rink was doing a good business. There were enough other cyclist out to easily make quota. I checked on the F/A-18 and it was still parked in front of the planetarium. I then got it in my head that I wanted to take a picture of lorikeets. There is a billboard on the way to work that features a picture of lorikeets and the simple message, “To rent this billboard, call …” So off to the zoo I headed.

As I was locking up my bike, I noticed a group of people across the street. They were standing in a grove of trees and I thought that they might be birders on a nature walk. Giving them no further thought, I headed into the Living World and was greeted by the full attention of policemen, rangers and security personnel, half-a-dozen in total. At first, I assumed that their attentions were derived from my bike garb, see the picture above, but their attentions persisted.

Mox nix, I headed to the children’s zoo, but unfortunately, the lorikeets are not on display during the winter. I then wandered around the zoo for an hour. On the way out, the law was still at their station. The group of thirty people was still across the street. I unlocked my bike, adjusted my kit and when I next looked up, the birders were gone. Passing by their site, I noticed a couple of Occupy Saint Louis placards that had been left behind.

The mists cleared and it finally dawned on me why there was so much law enforcement about. They are the occupier’s fan club, their constant companions. I finished out my miles. I saw the occupiers one more time, they were over by the visitor’s center this time. I stopped by the grocery store on the way home to do the shopping. No car driving today, not even the Prius. I got 15 miles.

White Storks

White Stork

Pictured above are a pair of White Storks at the Saint Louis Zoo.  Storks have long been associated with the delivery of babies, maybe because they are such good parents themselves.  The stork pairs mate for life and return to the same nest each year.  Storks are also thought to bring both luck and wealth.  They build their bulky nests on rooftops, chimneys and telephone poles.  Storks have disappeared from western Europe, and now the human populations there are shrinking.  Coincidence?  I think not.  😉

East African Crowned Cranes

This pair of storks shared a pen with a Nyala, which appeared to me to be some sort of antelope.  Anyway the Nyala was behaving erratically.  Alternately it would seem to fence with its horns a small low hanging tree branch and then it would chase a pair of East African Crowned Cranes that were also sharing the pen.  This behavior made the storks very nervous.  Their coping behavior was to tilt their heads backwards so that they were both inverted and then snap their beaks rapidly together.  There is a little movie at the end of this post.


I got up and out Thursday morning, for my first bike ride in the early morning dark, in a long time.  Rain could be seen coming in on the radar, but it managed to hold off until after I got to work.  It rained the rest of the day.  It was a good ride.  I got fifteen miles.