Zoo Day, 03-31-17

Around 8:30 am I headed over to the Sacramento Zoo, hoping to be able to catch a glimpse of their new tigress Jillian.  I didn’t see her, but I did get to see a lot of the other big cats including the Snow Leopard, Lions and Jaguar.  It was sunny, bright and in the 50’s, but a stiff wind was blowing so it felt a little colder than it was.  I put on an extra t-shirt to keep my insides warm…

CLICK HERE to see the entire album of photos and video snippets.

I got to the zoo too early, so I walked around the middle  pool at the William Land Park.  Whatever restoration the city was doing there is finished, but the big pond is still empty and surrounded by a fence.  I finished the walk around the pool right around 9 o’clock so I went into the zoo – just as a busload of ferrets showed up. Eew.  I tried to avoid their group as much as possible, but one group figured out that I had a good eye for finding the animals, so they hung around me no matter how hard I tried to lose them.  “Just watch where she points the camera,” one of the moms kept telling the kids.  Hah!

I was at the zoo for about three hours, just walking around at a leisurely pace, taking photos… Around 11:00 I stopped and got some lunch: a club sandwich with fries and a beer, and a package of cotton candy, too, of course. I can’t have a zoo day without cotton candy.

Most of the giraffes were out including the Masai dad, who was playing kick-ball with a barrel, and the baby who was feeling his oats and jumping around.  He would crouch down on his long legs and then pop up and bounce around – so cute. I got photos and videos of them.

When I got to the lions, papa decided to start roaring and I was able to get video of that, too. All of the cats seemed to be really enjoying the fresh cool weather, and posed for photos… except for Jillian. There was a zookeeper sitting out in front of the tiger’s enclosure, and pointed out where the tiger was supposed to be: in the dark under a cave-rock. I couldn’t see anything.  Jillian is new to the zoo, so she’s not habituated to her enclosure yet. I’m sure all the screaming children running around wasn’t helping her any…

There was a female Mallard who already had a brood of about seven ducklings with her; early season babies… and when I got to the chimpanzee enclosure, near the end of my walk, they were all sitting on the ground eating leaves or dozing in the warm sun…  I think I ended up with over 1400 photos!

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Mary K. Hanson is a breast cancer survivor who, at age 61, took coursework to become a Certified California Naturalist. The author of “The Chubby Woman’s Walkabout”™ blog, Ms. Hanson has also written nature-based feature articles published in regional newspapers, authored over ten books, including her "Cool Stuff Along the American" series of guide books, and has had her photographs featured in books, articles, calendars, on the American River Parkway Foundation’s Instagram stream, and even the White House blog. This year Ms. Hanson is helping to launch and teach a new Certified California Naturalist course through Tuleyome, in partnership with the University of California and the Woodland Library, so members of the public can themselves become certified as naturalists in the state. All of the photos seen on her website were taken by Ms. Hanson herself (unless noted otherwise) with moderate- to low-end photographic equipment more easily affordable to the everyday nature enthusiast. She also occasionally leads photo-walks through the American River Bend Park for the public and is sometimes available for public speaking.