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Link to this year's index by clicking here.

Wildlife World Zoo, Part 5

Meet Delila. Panthera leo. Born February 12, 2010. Like the young of any mammalian species, she probably likes to play. Unfortunately, she had no playmates and I was not about to volunteer. So she looked bored — but what a beautiful animal she is.

In the wild, lions are considered "vulnerable" probably due to loss of habitat and conflicts with humans. Their numbers have decreased rapidly with an estimated decline of 30% to 50% over the last two decades.

It rather looks like an ostrich but it is actually an emu, the national bird of Australia. They can reach a height of over six feet and weigh as much as 120 pounds. Obviously, they do not fly but are very fast runners. They are not considered threatened.

Now that is a face only another emu would love. Interestingly, in emu society, the females court the males — even fighting over prospective mates. The result of mating is a clutch of around a dozen dark green eggs. I have never seen such eggs before and when I found a photo in Wikipedia, I initially thought that it had been artificially colored for some reason (Easter?). Check it out.

Oh, a little doggie! Actually, a New Guinea Singing Dog — a primitive canine that once inhabited all of the island of New Guinea. According to Wikipedia, "Hardly anything is known about the life, genetic status, social structure, or numbers of these dogs in the wild".

Their name comes from their distinctive and melodious howl. Spectrographic analysis can distinguish five to eight overtones. When a pack "sings" together one dog will start and then the others will join in. They tend to sing in the morning and evening hours.

The entire population of these animals may number only about 300 in the wild. However, since they have not been formally classified as a separate species, they do not have formal a conservation status.

Resting in the grass is a Sable Antelope, a native of the wooded savannah in East Africa and Southern Africa. As you can see, they possess a pair of very impressive scimitar-shaped horns which they use to defend themselves and their herds from predators. Many of the big cats have died from such encounters.

Unfortunately, their horns are highly prized by hunters which, coupled with loss of habitat, has dramatically reduced their numbers. However, their conservation status is still classified as "Least Concern".

Watch where you step, an alligator may have its eye on you. As long as it does not have its bone-crushing jaws on you, we will agree to keep our distance from our new friend.

Although alligators were hunted widely until the 1960's, their populations are relative stable due to protection in the United States.

I assume that we all recognize the Indian Peafowl, or as most of us incorrectly call it, a peacock. Technically, a peacock is the male of the species and has the bright iridescent feathers we all know and love. Incidentally, the peafowl is the national bird of India.

The males have long extravagant tail feathers terminating with a "eye-spot". I caught this image with the sun brightly illuminating the tail of one peacock. Curiously, the camera cannot capture the brilliance of the image as effectively as the human eye.

Peafowl are not endangered.

One of the most delightful spots in the Wildlife World Zoo is the Kangaroo enclosure. You can actually walk along the path among the kangaroos. They seem to have no fear of humans in the enclosure but at the same time I did not want to test the state of human-kangaroos relations.

As I stood on the path, this old gentleman came hobbling across. He seem like an arthritic old man, barely able to walk about.

I am sure that all of you are familiar with the fact that female kangaroos raise their "joeys" in an abdominal pouch. If you look closely, you can see two small feet sticking out of this momma's pouch.

Kangaroos are not endangered.

And if you've ever been to Florida you will recognize Flamingos — although these are not plastic as you find in the Sunshine state. There are several species and found on both hemispheres.

Flamingos are social birds and can number in the tens of thousands in a single flock. They are filter feeders, eating algae, shrimp, mollusks and insect larvae found in the mud at the bottom of shallow ponds. The bright color of these birds is due to the quantity of shrimp and other crustaceans that they are fed.

Flamingos are not endangered.

Life is good.

B. David

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