Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Cheyenne Mountain Zoo

That's the hand of a large orangutan (snapped through plate glass) up above there. Today my niece, my great-niece, my aunt and I headed down to Colorado Springs to the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo. It's a small zoo, but nicely laid out with several opportunities to get quite close to the animals.

The first stop, after passing through the gift shop, is the giraffe pit, where visitors can feed crunchy little crackers to the giraffes. It's sort of amusing to see those long skinny heads so near, and to watch their tongues come slipping out to take the crackers from you. My great-niece loves feeding the giraffes, but isn't nuts about their tongues touching her hand.

The giraffes also like to like the wooden posts that support the roofing over their pit. I don't know if it's salted (or otherwise treated), or if it's just a substitute for licking bark in the wild.

There's also a great collection of big cats in the zoo, as well as some not so big. The Amur tiger, which we are told is the world's largest breed, paces up and down one fence-line, allowing you to get a pretty close look at him. The snow leopards are also placed very near to the viewer--although of course the wires of the cage get in the way. This beauty was just a few feet away from me.

I believe I snapped this shot through glass, but I can't remember for sure.

The primate collection is also impressive, including two babies--a gorilla and an orangutan. My photos didn't turn out as well as I had hoped, so I won't post them. Needless to say, however, the baby gorilla riding on its mother's back or giddily walking through the tall grass was quite a crowd-pleaser.

A sadder story is that of the baby orangutan, whose mother either rejected it or didn't know what to do with it. One of the zookeepers lies with it in its pen, letting it--I presume--bond with another mammal. Today the woman was leaning partially up against the wall, with the baby sleeping on top of her.

This enormous dude--at least I'm guessing he's a dude--is the one whose hand heads today's entry. He had, I think, a water bottle or something similar caught up inside this blanket, which he seemed to enjoy chewing on. He was right on the other side of the glass from us, which you get a suggestion of in the hand photo.

I don't remember which primate this was, but he offered such a clear shot of both of his feet that I couldn't resist. Imagine if your feet could do what his can.

The zoo also has elephants, hippos, penguins, lots of birds, mountain lions, fishing cats, reptiles, and most of the usual suspects. One always feels a little sad about the zoo lifestyle, but I reckon it beats being eradicated in the wild. And of course the learning experience for kids is colossal.

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