Foxes and Lion Cubs and Other Critters, Oh My!

!  I made myself a light breakfast, rebooted the dishwasher, and did some laundry before heading over to the Sacramento Zoo.  My hopes were to see the new Fennec Foxes they have on display as well as the new lion cub triplets, but I wasn’t sure if any of them would be out because it was so cold (about 43º).

I had to go through the zoo a couple of times to get some of the shots I wanted (because the animals were staying out of sight, inside where it was warm.  But… I DID finally get some shots of the foxes, and got to see the lioness and her babies when they stepped out to play.  There was fencing all around the lions’ den so you couldn’t get as close to the railing as you normally could which meant it was harder to shoot through the loops in the chain link (because the camera kept trying to focus on the fence and not the animals on the other side of it.)  Still, I was happy I got a chance to see them.  The cubs are darling; they were pouncing on each other and running all over the place.  At one point, the mama picked up a big ball and brought it to them, but they weren’t interested in that.  When she went back into their den and sat in the doorway, one of the cubs ran up to her, crashed into her chest and then laid down between her front paws.  So cute!  The Fennec Foxes were much tinier than I thought they would be – and are “all ears” – They rushed out into the sandy-gravelly pit area where the aardvark usually is, and darted back and forth… then ran back inside their den to warm themselves under the infrared lights in there.  Smart little guys!

I didn’t get to see the bats because they were hidden in their cave, but I DID get to see the jaguar who’s usually “never” out.  He was pacing and chuffing; I don’t think he’d gotten his breakfast yet and wasn’t happy about that.  I also got to see an Orinoco Goose go after a kid who was standing too close to the fence when the ganders’ harem came up out of the water to feed.  It rushed the kid with its wings outstretched and tried to bite him in the knee.  His mother thought it was hysterical, but the kid wasn’t too happy about it.  Hah!

In the animal hospital on the zoo grounds, the doctors were giving a checkup to a huge turtle.  The signage said the turtle had a gall stone and the doctors were deciding what to do about it (whether the animal was fit for surgery or not).  It must be difficult to operate on a turtle; going through the shell would do so much damage – but if you had to work around it, you’d have to figure out a way to get a camera in there so you could see what you were doing…  Interesting stuff.

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The chimps and orangutans weren’t out while I was there, so I didn’t get to see them, and I didn’t venture into the reptile house because there were screaming children all around it.  All in all, though,  I did get to see the foxes, the lions, the tiger, the Bateleur Eagle, the King Vulture, the Hornbills, lots of parrots and ducks, a Western Screech Owl, the White-Faced Saki, the Wolf’s Guenon, the jaguar and snow leopard, zebras, ostriches, giraffes, the White-Handed Gibbon, the giant anteater, the Red River Hogs, and the Yellow-backed Duiker (but not the baby one), the flamingoes and the White Pelicans… so it was a good day at the zoo.  AND I got my cotton candy!    On the way out to my car, I also found a rooster under a car in the parking lot – probably warming himself under the hot engine.  Hah!

Once I got home, I finished off my laundry and baked up a couple of veggie pies.  Then I crashed for the rest of the day with the dogs.

A video of a Merganser Duck: http://youtu.be/0gmNPPfovS4

A video of the lion cubs and their mama: http://youtu.be/plDshbB1nFM

A video of Orinoco Geese: http://youtu.be/VTfG1S4OCpM

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Mary K. Hanson is an author, nature photographer and Certified California Naturalist living with terminal cancer.