Hello Friends and Family,

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Phoenix Zoo, Part 1

It has been ages since I last visited the Phoenix Zoo during the daytime. I have made multiple trips to experience ZooLights at night during the Christmas and New Years holidays, primarily with Johnny. In fact, the last time I went to the zoo during daylight hours, I was carrying my first digital camera — one made by Sony which recorded the pixels on a tiny optical disk.

Even before paying my admission and entering the zoo, I encountered this beautiful Great Egret and her baby chick. I am guessing they are non-captive residents of the zoo since Egrets are common in Arizona. She found a great spot for hunting and nesting — and photography.

Also outside were a couple of Cormorants, also native to Arizona but perhaps not as beautiful as the Egrets — at least to my eye.

At the entrance, there is a fenced enclosure holding a Black Vulture. These birds are widespread, their range extends from the southeastern U.S. through Central America into South America. They are scavengers, feeding on carrion. However, they will also eat eggs and newborn animals. Additionally, they feed on leftovers found in garbage dumps.

Another vulture, this one is a Turkey Vulture. Their habitat is from Southern Canada to the tip of South America. It is also a scavenger, using its keen sense of smell to detect the gases produced by decaying flesh.

In Arizona, we often see them riding the thermals with wings spread, rarely having to flap them for additional flight speed. By the way, they are protected.

Just inside the entrance to the zoo is a tank with scores of rays and few tiny sharks. People are allowed to gently touch the fish.

Here an artistic sculpture of a gorilla. A nearby plaque suggested to me that it was in honor of an individual — but with no explanation of the connection to the gorilla. Me — confused, yes.

Another volunteer helping pick up the scraps that humans carelessly drop as they pass. Yep, the common Sparrow is earning its keep.

One of the surprises is how well landscaped the zoo is. Here is a very nice Fairy Duster flower. Perhaps my surprise is related to the fact that the landscaping is not so visible at night when I have been here most frequently — like it was all new to me.

This is a recreation facility for juvenile Homo sapiens who seem less interested in animals other than themselves. Curious, none were outside in the play area. Must have been too warm.

Oh, this brings back memories. During the first nighttime visit to ZooLights with Johnny, he wanted to ride the carousel. No problem except he wanted to ride it again and again. It was several bucks a pop and I had not brought that much cash with me. We had to find an ATM so he could go again and again and...

This is a well-sculpted tiger which sits just outside the Tiger enclosure.

And here is the real thing. A truly magnificent animal — a Sumatran Tiger — it was pacing back and forth when I first came close. But then it appears to decide all that exercise required a nap. Great time to get a magnificent portrait.

The Sumatran Tiger is, as you would guess, native to the Indonesian island of Sumatra. It is listed as Critically Endangered with only 441 to 679 animals left in the wild. According to Wikipedia, "Major threats include habitat loss due to expansion of palm oil plantations and planting of acacia plantations, prey-base depletion, and illegal trade primarily for the domestic market." Conservation efforts are ongoing but the future is still considered bleak.

To be continued...

Life is good.

B. David

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