Hello Friends and Family,

1982 - Zoo Miami

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The history of the zoo can be traced back to 1948, with what was then known as the Crandon Park Zoo on the island of Key Biscayne, just off the coast of downtown Miami. At that time, the zoo occupied 48 acres of the park and its first animals included some lions, an elephant, and a rhinoceros that had been stranded when a circus went out of business in Miami.

Zoo Miami today occupies almost 750 acres, 4 miles of walkways, and is home to more than 3,000 animals representing over 500 different species. Of this population, more than 130 species are at risk in the wild; many are classified as endangered or critically endangered. The zoo also houses more than 1,000 species of trees, palms, and other plants, and over 100 special exhibits showcasing a broad number of species and scientific topics.

This structure looks like it might be found in Southeast Asia — and serves as a backdrop for...

Tigers! This zoo is the modern variety in which there are no cages or other visible signs of separation from the animals. Of course, there are moats and other means of achieving the necessary separation of large carnivorous cats and vulnerable human beings.

It is so appropriate that Zoo Miami has a nice collection of real flamingos since it seems like most residences here have at least one plastic flamingo prominently displayed in their front yard.

And that brings me to another part of the story. A little more than 10 years after my visit, Hurricane Andrew paid a visit to South Florida. Zoo personnel had to quickly find shelter for all of the animals to protect them from that ferocious storm. Many of the animals had permanent sturdy homes where they spend the night, such as the building shown in the first photo. No such place existed for the flamingos — so workers herded them into one of the public restrooms. To see some photos of that time, do a Google search for "zoo miami hurricane andrew flamingos images". Most of the animals survived although I could not find an exact count. The zoo was closed for a year or so to recover.

Next, we see two East African Crowned Cranes. This crane is a tall, majestic-looking bird that sports a sort of crown of tall, stiff, golden feathers. The crane's long legs and neck and excellent peripheral vision help it spot predators in the tall savanna grasses of eastern sub-Saharan Africa and South Africa.

This is a vervet — a small, black-faced monkey, common in East Africa. There are several subspecies of vervet monkeys, but, generally, the body is a greenish-olive or silvery-gray.

Most everyone will recognize the chimpanzee. Look carefully and you can see a tiny hand at the mother's waist and a tiny head at her breast — lunchtime! So cute — but I wish I had a telephoto lens to capture a closer image.

For some reason, I love orangutans. Maybe it's the reddish color of their hairy coats which brings the memory of when my hair and beard were red. Maybe it's the peaceful way they interact with each other. They seem more human than many humans I have encountered.

This appears to be a Galapagos Tortoise, native to the Galapagos Islands visited by Charles Darwin in the 1830s. I assume that this animal was able to ride out Hurricane Andrew successfully since it carries a hurricane-proof home on its back.

This far back in my photographic avocation, I had not learned to capture a shot of the informative signs at a zoo — so I have to do more work to identify the animals I captured on my Kodachrome 64 slides. I believe this shot shows two juvenile and one adult eland — one of the African savanna’s most enduring animal inhabitants. The largest of the antelope family, the animal is remarkable for its striking coat and impressive, ox-like build. There are two types of eland – the giant eland found in Central and West Africa and the common eland, which inhabits lands stretching from East to Southern Africa.

Here we see a pair of Cape buffalo, a sub-species of African buffalo. It is widely regarded as one of the most dangerous animals on the African continent, and according to some estimates it gores, tramples, and kills over 200 people every year. It is not an ancestor of domestic cattle and is only distantly related to other larger bovines. Its unpredictable temperament may have been part of the reason that the African buffalo has never been domesticated, unlike its Asian counterpart, the water buffalo. Adult African buffaloes have few non-human predators aside from lions and large crocodiles. As a member of the big five game animals, the Cape buffalo is a sought-after trophy in hunting.

The greater one-horned rhino is the largest land mammal after elephants, along with the African white rhino. Males can weigh up to 6,000 pounds and females up to 3,500 pounds. These rhinos are characterized by grey or grayish-brown skin folds that resemble armor plating and have wart-like bumps that cover the shoulder and upper leg region. They have a single horn that sits on a bony knob and is composed of hardened, compressed hair-like fibers called keratin. The animal wears down his horn on his own by rubbing it on the rocks in his enclosure but sometimes he needs help keeping it even. The zoo's pachyderm specialists and veterinary staff work with him to file and trim his horn to keep it growing and healthy.

This unusual animal is a variety of tapir — a large, herbivorous mammal, similar in shape to a pig, with a short, prehensile nose trunk. Tapirs inhabit jungle and forest regions of South and Central America, with one species inhabiting Southeast Asia.

Everyone knows the elephant — this one is an Asian elephant — the largest living land animal in Asia. Since 1986, the Asian elephant has been listed as Endangered on the IUCN Red List, as the population has declined by at least 50 percent over the last three elephant generations, which is about 60–75 years. It is primarily threatened by loss of habitat, habitat degradation, fragmentation, and poaching. In 2019, the wild population was estimated at 48,323-51,680 individuals. Female captive elephants have lived beyond 60 years when kept in semi-natural surroundings, such as forest camps. In zoos, Asian elephants die at a much younger age; captive populations are declining due to a low birth and high death rate.

The lion (Panthera leo) is a large cat of the genus Panthera native to Africa and India. It has a muscular, deep-chested body, short, rounded head, round ears, and a hairy tuft at the end of its tail. It is sexually dimorphic; adult male lions are larger than females and have a prominent mane.

It is a social species, forming groups called prides. A lion's pride consists of a few adult males, related females, and cubs. Groups of female lions usually hunt together, preying mostly on large ungulates. The lion is an apex and keystone predator; although some lions scavenge when opportunities occur and have been known to hunt humans, the species typically does not.

Life is good.

B. David

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