We needed to get up early for an errand on Friday, so afterward we went out to breakfast and arrived at the zoo right at opening time. We ended up staying almost all day, and as usual I took way too many photos. If you look at how many photos I took versus how many minutes we were there, it averages out to a photo every minute. Whoops. It is going to take me until 2012 to sort through these completely, but I’ve already tossed a quarter of them. Progress!
It was nice to have most of the zoo to ourselves — I think the staff to visitor ratio was at least 2:1 for the first half of the day. However, it was incredibly cold until about noon. It was so cold we saw the steam from an elephant fart. I was glad I’d worn layers and gloves.
We tried to see the tiger feeding, but they changed the schedule so we went to see the cheetah feeding instead. We learned some interesting things about cheetahs, like how African farmers whose livestock are threatened by cheetahs have learned to keep Anatolian Shepherds. The dogs bond with whatever they’re raised with and are excellent at scaring off the cheetahs, who prefer to run rather than fight. The cheetahs at the Houston Zoo are kept with one of these dogs. They had to be separated when the cheetahs were going through their ‘terrible twos’ and played too rough — the dog wouldn’t defend itself. They play nice now.
Shortly after the cheetah feeding, we saw the chimp feeding. The zoo hasn’t had chimps in decades, but they’re back now with a nice new exhibit. They even have blankets for cold days like Friday.
One of the most exciting things we saw was a pair of leopards play-fighting two feet away from us. They reminded me of my sister’s cats!
After it warmed up we also got to see two baby elephants playing. They were chasing each other around and falling on top of each other. It was a lot cuter than the display we had gotten earlier in the morning from one of the adults.
Later this week I’ll post some of my favorite feathery and scaly critters!