Hello Friends and Family,

Link to this year's index by clicking here.

Wildlife World Zoo, Part 2

Continuing the tour of the Wildlife World Zoo, I encountered two enclosures containing meerkats — the cute little critters that you might recall from Disney's The Lion King — you remember, Timon (the meerkat) and Pumbaa (the warthog). In real life, meerkats are a member of the mongoose family and are native to the Kalahari Desert. They are not endangered.

They live in small colonies where they dig burrows for protection from both the elements and the creatures who would love to make a meal of meerkat. They dine primarily on insects but also small reptiles, spiders, eggs and even small mammals and birds. The colony always posts a sentry watching for predators because they must forage daily due to a lack of body fat. I could not tell if this one was on sentry duty or just enjoying the heat of a warm rock in the early morning sun.

Nearby I found another cute little mammal, a baby De Brazza's Monkey born September 15, 2010. It was as active as a human child, exploring everywhere and playing with anything that might resemble a toy. This species is native to the wetlands of central Africa and is not endangered.

The zoo has a nice aviary where multiple species of birds reside — here a Vulturine Guinea Fowl sometimes called Royal Guinea Fowl. They are the largest and most stunning of all guinea fowl. They are native to the desert and grassland areas of east Africa and are not endangered.

This is a gregarious species which forms flocks of from a dozen to a couple hundred birds — feeding on seeds, vegetation and small invertebrates. They tend to run rather than fly when threatened. The head resembles an old world vulture which is where they got their name.

Another brightly colored bird, also in the aviary, seemed to have no fear of me. Unfortunately, we were not formally introduced so I have no idea what type of bird it is.

Now this bird I know, the Ostrich — the largest bird in the world growing up to nine feet tall and weighing as much as 340 pounds. Also, they are fast — running up to 45 mph. Of course, as you probably know, ostriches are flightless. They are not endangered and their fossil record goes all the way back to the Pleistocene era.

And they are not shy and seem to be curious about their human visitors.

Just beyond was an area containing Scimitar Oryx, native to North Africa. They have been classified as extinct in the wild due to hunting for their horns. Only a few thousand exist in zoos and breeding facilities although there are plans to reintroduce them into the wild in Tunisia.

Another familiar shape, a female giraffe and her baby. Native to central and southern Africa, the giraffe is not endangered. As you might guess, the giraffe is the tallest land animal species — and pretty heavy too, the heaviest males tipping the scales at 2,600 pounds.

The zoo has a raised platform which allows the visitor to see a giraffe eye-to-eye.

Or hand to tongue. Food pellets are available from vending machines — the kids seemed to delight in dropping those pellets onto that long purple tongue.

The next pen contained what look like deer but which are actually Impala. They are native to central and southern Africa and are not endangered. Or at least the species is not endangered — these individuals appear to be on guard making sure they do not become dinner.

Because you never know what lurks behind that next bush.

To be continued...

Life is good.

B. David

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