Obscure Animals

The animals pictured with today’s post are not that well know.  Some like the camel and the prairie dog, I suppose are, but for the most part I think that they are obscure.  Before you mouse over them (if you haven’t already) and read their names in the tool tip, try to guess their names.  Let me know how you do too.  Also, the animals pictured with today’s post are all mammals.  They are also all herbivores. 

Years ago in the early 1980s, not too long after we had moved here, Saint Louis was hit by a tremendous blizzard.  Nineteen inches of snow comes to mind.  At the time we were renting and were living less than half a mile from the Park.  (Now we own and live a mile and a half from the Park.)  The city was shutdown.  Back then SUVs weren’t as ubiquitous as they are now and on KMOX radio they were announcing police requests for citizens to volunteer vehicles with four wheel drive.  Saint Louis was basically shut down.

I remember that the snow started as we were walking home from the Esquire movie theater.  It was late Sunday afternoon.  Snow was already falling quite heavily.  There was thunder to be heard, so called thunder snow.  We were scheduled to drive to some friends house that evening, but decided that the weather was too bad and stayed home.

The snow was still falling Monday morning, all of the highways were closed, and it was obviously a snow day.  Anne and I launch on our cross country skis for the Park.  We traipsed around for hours and eventually found ourselves at the main entrance to the zoo.  By this time we were getting cold.  The main entrance was closed, but a service entrance was open.  Well it was sort of open, if you discounted the giant snow drift blocking the way.  We saw a zoo keeper climbing over it and asked if the zoo was open.  He thought for a while and said that most of the buildings would be closed, but that he thought that the zoo was open.  Normally the zoo only closes on Christmas and Easter. 

We skied around was a little while.  The only animals that I remember seeing were the sea lions and the bears.  They were having as much fun in the snow as we were.  There was one building that was open; it was the old snack bar that used to stand near the sea lion’s pool.  We got some hot chocolate and maybe some food there too.  I think that we were the only visitors there that were not zoo personnel.  The rest of the cliental were zoo keepers, even the guy “running” the snack bar.  I remember to this day one of the keepers coming in from the cold and exclaiming to his brethren, “I’m the only one in my department that has made it in.  So, I have a couple of hundred herbivores to feed today.”  Obscure animals, you have got to love them, well at least somebody does.

OBTW, I biked Tuesday night for the first time in over a week and got fifteen miles.

Lions and Tigers and Bears, Oh My!

Mommy took us to the zoo today.  Well actually I drove, but it was Anne’s idea.  Rey came too.  The Saint Louis Zoo is probably the second best zoo in the country.  The San Diego Zoo is clearly the best.  The National Zoo in Washington had given us a run for a while, but I think that in recent years, the Saint Louis Zoo has consistently bested it.

The oldest structure in the Saint Louis Zoo is the bird cage, which dates from the 1904 Worlds Fair.  It was the Smithsonian’s exhibit at the fair and is one of three structures still standing from that fair.  From that beginning the zoo was born.  Marlin Perkins of Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom fame was a curator.  Amanda Blake, Miss Kitty, from the TV series Gunsmoke, donated the Cheetah exhibit.  About twenty years ago Saint Louis County agreed to help fund the zoo, plus a number of other Saint Louis treasures.  Since that time the zoo has enjoyed a renaissance. More then half the zoo as it was when Anne and I first moved to Saint Louis has been rebuilt and for the better.

But on Sunday we eschewed many of the newer sections, for the so called heritage portion of the zoo.  The weather was perfect for a fall afternoon.  As the pictures with this post imply, we did Big Cat Country.  We stared for several minutes looking for the lions and then saw them in the middle of their den, busy being passive solar collectors.  They had found a place in their cage to hide in plain sight.  In the summer months, when dawn comes at its earliest, I am sometimes on the bike path.  The big cat’s biological clocks are all set to breakfast time and you can frequently hear them growling as you pass by.  On more than one occasion I have joked to a cyclist that I was passing, that you don’t have to be faster than the lions. “I just need to be faster then you!”

I think that all of the animals pictured with this post are pretty easily identifiable.  Later this week, I’ll get into the more obscure zoo animals and there will be a quiz.  Later still, I will do the birds.  😉