at the zoo

The grandkids always love a trip to the Minnesota Zoo, with its warm and humid tropics trail a key attraction on a cold winter or spring day.  Getting there early meant we had the place almost to ourselves, and as a result, saw some things we normally would not have seen.

aquarium-MN zoo-

A brilliant array of tropical fish swarmed in front of the kids, but the highlight was watching the sharks and rays get fed.

minnesota zoo animals-

Animals are far more active earlier in the morning, but the group of monkeys in this cage looked incredibly bored. DeBrazza’s Monkey (on the left in back) was looking around with heavy lidded eyes; the Black and White Colobus Monkey on the right stood in this pose for minutes, while others moved around it.

spotted whistling duck-MN Zoo-

A Spotted Whistling Duck took off from its lagoon and stopped for a visit with us on the observation area railing.

beaver family-MN Zoo-

The beaver family swam out of their underwater lodge entrance and made a guest appearance on their fake dam. Dark beaver pelts in bright sunlight and deep shade — could the photography get any more challenging?

cockroach-MN Zoo-

The grandkids screamed when they thought one of the Madagascar Hissing Cockroaches had escaped its cage — but it was just an ordinary cockroach on the wire of the Hornbill cage.

Apparently the zoo environment is so attractive, House Sparrows, mice, and cockroaches have invaded to find better homes in the winter.  The House Sparrows enjoy the food put out for the captive birds in the aviary, and nest in places the zoo staff can’t reach, so they are difficult to eradicate.

black bear - MN Zoo-

Some animals were a lot more active than usual on this visit. The tree-climbing black bear surprised us because it climbed so high and was such a big bear. It moved around like it was trying to figure out how to get down — we didn’t stick around to see it though.

I am not a great fan of captivity for wild animals, but of course, some of the zoo’s inhabitants have debilitating injuries or are simply unfit to be returned to the wild, so zoos are a good alternative existence for them.  Because there were so few other visitors around, zoo staff had time to talk with us about some of the success stories of captive breeding, rehabilitation, and even stress management programs that help promote healthier, long-lived zoo inhabitants.  The “ah/awe” factor can’t be discounted either — kids and adults alike were wowed by gigantic sharks and rays politely, but dramatically, taking their meals of herring.

8 thoughts on “at the zoo

    • I bet the tulips are amazing! Photos all shot with the phone camera, I didn’t want to haul the beast and all the coats through the zoo.

  1. I have the same mixed feelings about zoos as you do, Sue. In addition to the reasons you have listed, some zoos, like the National Zoo in D.C., are very active in species conservation. I know, for example, they work hard with cheetahs, one of my favorite animals, to broaden the DNA pool.

    • Yes, indeed, the MN zoo engages in a wide variety of conservation efforts as well, not the least of which is the education about why conservation is badly needed in much of the world. But it saddens me to see a cougar pacing up and back over the same 10 foot stretch of cage because it’s bored.

  2. It’s really good to hear that there is active discussion on stress management for the inhabitants of MN zoo. I remember going to London Zoo when I was a kid, very much less enlightened times, and it only occurred to me years later that it must be a dreadful existence for a creature like a polar bear to be incarcerated somewhere like that. But times are changing as the role of zoos moves from entertainment to conservation and research, and a good zoo is a great place to educate as well as entertain the youngsters.

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