Thursday, August 20, 2009

Another trip to the zoo

We are season pass holders to a small zoo that is not far from our house. We try to visit as often as possible, but with my job and uncooperative weather, we really only make it several times a summer. The weather was nice enough on Saturday that we decided to take a family trip to the zoo.

So far, Michael's favorite part of the zoo is the playground. With a wide variety of playground equipment, tall sycamore trees for shade, and a nice high fence surrounding it, the playground itself is almost enough to justify the cost of the season pass. Michael's second favorite part of the zoo is the tunnel at the prairie dog exhibit. His third favorite part of the zoo is the old train car they have set up with bison and elk skins inside. Please notice how none of Michael's favorite features of the zoo actually involves animals.

During our trip on Saturday, Michael actually noticed the Bison and the black footed ferrets for the first time. I can see missing the ferrets; they are in a small, dark exhibit, but how do you miss bison? Those things are huge! I guess when a train car is next to them, it's easy to get distracted. No matter, I consider recognition of animals at the zoo as progress.

The zoo focuses on animals of North and South America, so a few of the exhibits include local animals that have been rescued and cannot be released back into their habitat. As part of the zoo improvements, last summer they added a vulture exhibit. Which brings me to yesterday's duck pond pictures.

The duck pond did have ducks when we first started visiting the zoo, but once they built the vulture exhibit things started to change. At first, the only vultures in the park were the 7 or 8 that were in vulture display and the rare 1 or 2 in the Bald Eagle display. But I guess the roosting behavior of the black vultures kicked in. On one visit I noticed several black vultures sitting in the trees overhanging the vulture exhibit. It seemed sort of cruel, like the free vultures were taunting the caged vultures. On the next visit, I noticed even more vultures. This past weekend, the black vultures have spread out around the zoo and have taken over the duck pond. There wasn't a duck in sight. (Can you blame them?)

I admit, it is a bit disconcerting walking around the zoo with vultures watching me. However, its a lot more interesting than throwing food pellets at the Mallards. And, it will certainly help out when the zoo celebrates Halloween. But, if they change out the duck food dispenser for a road kill dispenser, I may just have to complain.

One thing I do find interesting is that there are both black and turkey vultures in the exhibit, but only the black vultures have taken over the zoo. Normally, I see more turkey vultures in the wild, so this is a bit surprising. Off to go Google vulture behavior.


Steph said...

Hooray for progress in noticing the animals. Total 3 year old mentality...a one track mind totally focused on what they are interested in, to the exclusion of everything else.

I am still laughing about the road kill dispenser! Now that would be a sight (and smell)!

Mel said...

That is a creepy duck pond! Do you have a vulture call on your iPhone?

Stacey said...

Cole's favorite things about the zoo are: 1) The binocular things 2) The fountains 3) The playground 4) The train

I think we've spent about 30 minutes looking at animals this whole summer. I'm determined to go early enough to feed the giraffes before next week is done.

That duck pond might keep me away from the zoo.