At the Zoo – I Believe It’s True

“Somethin’ tells me it’s all happening at the zoo

I do believe it
I do believe it’s true”  

(Paul Simon, At the Zoo)

The elephants wanted to play hide and seek. But they aren’t very good at it.

So you have to pretend you are playing with them.  It’s just for fun anyway and the elephants don’t even notice you are pretending to play.

It calls to mind a poem that I was supposed to memorize when I was in elementary school:  Eletelephony by Laura Elizabeth Richards.

One little girl (no doubt being a papagayo herself and imitating the question she is asked constantly) in her playground voice kept asking the elephant: “Are you having fun in there?”

Actually, my trip  to the Cincinnati Zoo was just therapeutic for me.  Trying to regain any stamina and desire to do something.  Since the lung cancer surgery and chemo, energy levels have been low and I have a hard time making myself to get out and do anything.  So once again the camera helps with the motivation a little, to go on a photo safari at the zoo.

Remember the parable of the blind men and the elephant?

We may in fact experience reality, and know it truly, but it just might not be the entire picture.  Wisdom.  We can know the truth, but it may be about only a small part of reality and the much bigger picture is beyond what we can see or know.

The crab apples and many other trees are starting to blossom.  In so many ways, fireworks remind me of tree blossoms – a temporary beauty which explodes upon the scene, giving color to the sky.  Nature does it so much more quietly than humans, and with a much nicer fragrance!

A team of tulips

Looking back through the years, I can see from my Flickr webpage how much more frequently I used to take my camera out and go for a walk somewhere.

Cancer and chemo have taken their toll on me, but life goes on as the unfolding tulips reveal.  The colors are all the show to my eye, but those colors aren’t the main business of the tulips – the species is more interested in its survival but like so many flowers they do it in such a spectacularly beautiful way.

The big cats remain a favorite animal of mine.  I did get to see the cheetah on a chase.  The Cincinnati Zoo’s new cheetah run and Africa exhibit are worth seeing.

The above photo for some reason to me seemed like a picture post card.  Just needs to have AFRICA emblazoned across the photo.

A pride of lionesses

The big cats are just beautiful and carry themselves so majestically – at least when they bother to get up.  Cat nature seems to involve a lot of sleeping.

A tuft of tulips

I didn’t go look at the insect exhibit, but this tulip’s anthers reminded me of a spider.  Beauty, I guess, is in the eye of the beholder.

You can see all the photos I took on the photo safari at My Zoo Safari.




Tigers are perhaps my favorite wild animal. I use them as my photo ID at the top of my blog for that reason.  Some have asked me, “what is the significance of the tiger at the top of my blog?”   Being vigilant?  No, just a favorite animal.

I think they are truly a beautiful mammal.

Their stripes, coloring and eyes all captivate me.

Tigers are cats and engage in typical cat behavior, including licking their fur.

Above is a mother tiger who gave birth to four male cubs.  She is looking pretty proud of herself.  Some of her cubs are pictured a few photos below.

As I’m recovering from my spinal fusion, I am not able to get out and do any photography.

So I’ve decided to do a photo blog of a favorite photo object of mine: the tiger.

The cub is cute, but those paws are huge.

The adult cats are beautiful, and tiger cubs are cute.  The above are brothers and their mother’s photo was mentioned above.

Above are the brothers about one year later.  They are already big cats.

All of my photos were done at the Cincinnati Zoo, the Columbus Zoo,  the San Diego Zoo Safari Park or the National Zoo in Washington, DC.

You can find a list with links to all my other photo blogs at MY Photo Blogs.

You can also see some of my other tiger photos at Tiger Eyes or Big Cats or Tigers (2010).

Snake Eyes

In recent taking up photography as a hobby made me more fascinated with nature than I had ever been in my life.  Just stopping to look at nature in local parks led me to visit zoos and take pictures wherever I could.

Despite a cultural fear of snakes, personally I find snakes and reptiles to be most interesting subjects for pictures.  Maybe I feel safe because they are behind glass walls in zoos and aquariums, but I don’t find them to be fearful beings, but fascinating ones.

Some of them seem to be looking right at you, and you wonder what they would say if they could talk.

Jameson’s Mamba is the name of the snake above.  Deadly venomous.   But when I visit the Cincinnati Zoo, it is my favorite for viewing and photographing. The pattern of the scales over the body are intriguing.    The one above seems ready for serious conversation. No wonder Eve was deceived.   A talking serpent is not as easy to resist as you might imagine.

Nelson’s Milk Snake is non-venomous as are many snakes.  He too is curious about his environment and perhaps about the visitors who come to see him!   Current evolutionary theory says snakes evolved from reptiles with legs.  Some mistakenly think evolution should have moved from legless to legged, but that is not the case.  Even in Genesis 3 the serpent ends up slithering on the ground and loses his legs after the Fall of Adam and Eve.

Grand Cayman Iguana (above) is on the brink of extinction in the wild.  Not a pretty face, but this one almost seems to be smiling.

It is the front feet of  the Crocodile Monitor (above) which I find so fascinating.  They are designed for grasping and certainly look like gloved hands.  It is this genetic similarities between animals of different species that give credence to evolutionary theory.

The above photo of the Komodo Dragon  gives a pretty good look at this reptile’s ear.  They do have ears, but it is a hole in the side of the their head, they have no “pinna” or auricle, those visible folds of skin on the sides of our heads that we often associate with the ear in humans.  They are listening.

The Green Anaconda (above) is said to be the longest species of snake in the world.  This one doesn’t reveal his length, but his piercing eyes seem to plumb the length of the inner you!

The National Geographic Society Museum in Washington, D.C., had a wonderful display of Geckos.   The one pictured above is the Leopard Gecko Morph Striped.   They are considered to be a good pet for those looking for a lizard to bring home to care for.

Just above the surface of the water, only their eyes are visible.  A quick glance and you might think they belong to large frogs.  But beneath the water are full Alligators, lurking quietly, awaiting prey.

Back to snakes, this one above a Burmese Python.  I do find the scale patterns of the different snakes to be most interesting.  Many of us though would prefer watching Monty Python for entertainment.  Not being a TV watcher, I find looking through the glass in the reptile houses to be more invigorating than passively watching the tube.

And back to the Jameson’s Mamba.  It is as I mentioned my favorite snake at the Cincinnati Zoo.  I consider it beautiful, though deadly dangerous.   The snakes and reptiles are part of God’s creation and according to Genesis a serpent lived in paradise too.  The story of his betrayal of Eve resulting in human death enshrines the fear of snakes in human history and mythology.   Some indeed are a threat to humans, but many are not venomous and are the friends of humans consuming rodents and other vermin pests.

You can find links to all my photo blogs at  My Photo blogs.    Zoos enable me to visit the world, and to view even dangerous animals in relative safety and comfort.

Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden

Last week I had a short period of time to visit the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Gardens, and despite the oppressive heat and humidity, I did stroll through the Zoo for about an hour.  I can at least invite you along for a short walk to enjoy God’s creation.  The Zoo is just a nice place for a walk, the camera gives me an excuse for walking and taking time to smell the flowers (you can smell the animals too, but that is less desirable though equally memorable) as well as photographing them.

The Southern Magnolia has beautiful large flowers in the spring, which produces a beautifully photogenic fruit.

The patterns and colors of theTropicana Canna are magnificent.  The variations of plant leaves in color, size, texture, and pattern even within one species of plants give us a sense of the creativeness of the Creator.

The Lowland Gorilla is relatively speaking a close genetic match to humans, though the differences are pronounced.  The structure of the Gorilla’s hands and arms are still such that they can function like a foot and leg.

The wide-eyed Lemur makes it appear to be very alert.  Another distant relative of humans in the genetic tree of life.

The Montane had a showman’s personality and seemed to like the attention of the camera.  Many of the Lorikeets seem to have facial expressions, or at least it is easy to anthropomorphize and project onto them personalities.

These three Golden Conures seemed to be up to something by their expressions.

The Parrots colors and markings were so eye catching.  God made a beautiful creation which we can simply enjoy if we take the time and aren’t totally consumed by utilitarian thinking.

The bee on the Rattlesnake Master flower was itself being buzzed by a tinier bee or wasp.  I have often noticed that each flower is often a microcosmic ecosystem with its unique inter-dependency between flora and fauna.  You often see specific insects only on specific plants.  They survive and thrive only with each other.

The Pica Bella Coneflower’s petals are delicate rays of a purple sunburst.   “O Lord, how manifold are Your works!  In wisdom You made them all.” (Psalm 104:24)

You can see a slideshow of the entire set of  my photos from the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Gardens on my Flickr page.