Sunday, July 27, 2008

Where the Wild Things Are

In the Camp post, I promised to show you some of the animals we have here at our Natural History Museum. It's a zoo trail loop, with various native animals kept in natural habitat enclosures. If you ignore the boardwalks and the fencing, you could almost believe you were out there in the wild and coming up upon these creatures unexpectedly.

Thirty years ago, I volunteered with the zoo curator and helped feed the animals. Impressive was the bald eagle named Hickle. I'm sure this isn't the same bird, but the attitude is definitely the same!

I see you

These toms were hilarious. It was like watching siamese-twins or synchronized swimmers - the way they walked around. It's mating season apparently because they were both in stately pursuit of a lovely little turkey hen that managed to stay about 10 feet in front of them.

Synchronized Turkeys

They're doing some work on the boardwalks through the deer habitat, and at first glance, I totally missed this little one hanging out underneath. All the deer seem very young this time. The fawn's mother came to guard her baby. In another pen was a young buck. His tongue hung out of the side of his mouth in a most comical manner and his front legs splayed oddly when he stood still. He'd been hit by a car and after his rescue, was relocated here. The nerves that control his tongue had been severely damaged and he actually cannot pull his tongue back into his mouth. His legs had also been broken. One would think that an animal hurt so badly would be written off, but the amazing spirit and curiosity of this little buck is evident even from a distance. I wish I'd been able to get a picture of him.


We seem to be missing an otter. It's been a while since I've been on the zoo trail, so after observing this guy for a while, came to the conclusion that his mate had died. His swimming pattern seemed to indicate that he'd been swimming solo for a while.

Otter in the shade

The pride and joy of our museum are the Florida Panthers. They are endangered and every one is precious. Which is why this guy is here. He'd been hit by a car. His jaw was broken, a foot mangled. Apparently he'd been out there on his own for a while because he obviously lost quite a few fights for territory (note the missing ear and generally ratty appearance). He'd also suffered a punctured lung, which once he was found, necessitated surgery to remove a part of his lung. He is in a separate area than the healthy cats.


The healthy cats are absolutely beautiful. Their fur looks so soft, you just want to crawl in the tube with this snoozer and snuggle up.

Sweet dreams

But the tail on this one switched constantly. Bad dreams? Or does he feel me watching?


Another native Floridian... This guy is about 12 feet long, fat and happy. Just look at that smile!
Big boy Smile
Fat and Happy
Castro was sleeping pretty hard. I didn't disturb him, but took my pictures and moved on.

Castro naps

Not a teddy bear Honeysuckle
As I was leaving this section of boardwalk, ZBoy's camp group came tromping down the path. They had made a "bear enrichment" item earlier this week and were on their way to give it to the bears. Castro snoozed on, but Honeysuckle made her way down to see what all the commotion was.
Campers treat the bears Bear Popsicle
The "bear enrichment item" was in fact a specially made popsicle with koolaid and peaches.

The next stop is the fox enclosure. They used to share this with the skunks, but there were no s skunks in evidence this time - either by sight or smell. This fellow loves napping in a big oak tree.

Silver Fox in tree

These are gray foxes. A red fox looks very similar, but has a white tip on its tail. The second picture is of their habitat. See? If it weren't for the fence, you wouldn't realize that this was a zoo!
Silver fox Fox habitat
You're lucky to see as good a picture as this of the Red Wolf. Also on the endangered list, the museum boasts a mating pair. Their pups, which they seem to produce every few years are either sent to other zoos or taken to St. Vincent Island, which is a red wolf refuge off our coast.
One of the curators was cleaning out and refilling the water buckets and the wolves were trotting back and forth on the far side of the enclosure - and almost directly under me.

Still for a moment 2

There were lots of other animals, but their pictures didn't turn out very well for one reason or another. But I hope you enjoyed the ones I did manage to get!


karisma said...

Thanks! Felt like I just had a trip to the zoo! I will have to bring DB back later and show him all the animals. He will love it!

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Debs said...

Great pics!!!!!