Hello Friends and Family,

Link to this year's index by clicking here.

Wildlife World Zoo, Part 1

Welcome to the Wildlife World Zoo and Aquarium located in Litchfield Park, a community on the western edge of the Phoenix metro area. At this spot where cotton fields and truck farms once flourished, is now targeted for housing developments.

But in the middle of all this "progress" is the home of Arizona's largest collection of exotic animals with over 4,000 animals representing nearly 600 species. By comparison, the Phoenix Zoo is home to some 1,300 animals including 200 endangered species.

The Wildlife World Zoo began life as a breeding facility for endangered species and still performs that function. However, in 1984, it was opened to the public.

This was my first trip to this zoo and I was not quite sure what to expect. It seems that most modern zoos have tried to display the animals in a more natural-looking habitat. Not here so much. Many of the animals are in cages or fenced-in areas. As a photographer, I was apprehensive because it is so challenging to try and capture images of the animals without the cages getting in the way.

So I started with this Mountain Coati, a native of northern South America. There were several in the cage and very active — making it difficult to capture a good image through the cage.

The zoo has obviously recognized that it needs to attract kids — as evidenced by their playground...

and their train...

and their petting zoo. Here is an Axis Deer, which is not endangered in the wild.

Another petting zoo animal is the African Pygmy Goat. This is a domesticated animal and thus also not endangered.

Interestingly, the zoo has taken precautions to protect both the animals and the kids visiting them. One such precaution is the elaborate hand-washing facility and the caretaker's admonition to the kids to "wash your hands when you leave the petting area".

Moving on, I encountered a cage of Indian Ringneck Parakeets. You'll notice no rings around their necks — but that is because these are females — only the males have the rings.

They are native to southern Asia and central Africa. They are social and noisy but, nevertheless, are valued as pets.

An aquatic turtle! No signs were displayed so I do not know the variety or if it is endangered. It does have interesting red "eye brows" and what looks like algae on its shell.

Quite a bit bigger are these African Spurred Tortoises (remember that turtles live in or around water but tortoises are land animals). They are native to the southern edge of the Sahara desert and are the third largest species of tortoise in the world. They are considered vulnerable (one notch above endangered).

It looks like the male took his sweetie out for dinner — a lavish repast of celery. Not exactly a big spender — I hope he does not have expectations after dinner.

Oops, looks like he does. His girlfriend was not so willing.

There is a canal that runs through the park (used for boat rides) and it is home to many aquatic birds such as this Mallard duck. This species in not endangered and I suspect they were just being opportunistic rather than invited guests.

Wow! A Black Swan! Native to Australia and also not endangered. They are popular as an ornamental waterbird in western Europe, especially Britain.

Curiously, (as reported in Wikipedia) they lose all their flight feathers when they moult after breeding, and are unable to fly for about a month. During that time, they usually settle on large, open waters for safety.

And here we encounter a pair of Macaws — which are native to Mexico, Central America and South America. Of course they are quite popular as pets. Despite that, most species are considered endangered in the wild.

Another Macaw, again with brilliantly beautiful plumage.

To be continued...

Life is good.

B. David

P. S., All photos and text © B. David Cathell Photography, Inc. — www.bdavidcathell.com