But it's all good, 'cos I got neat photos. And if you click the length below, and go fix yourself a drink while it loads, you can see some of the results. (Once again, if there's any artists out there and you see a beasty you really really want to paint, and want a bigger photo of it for ref, just drop me a line--on a number of 'em I've got 1200 x 1600 shots, and I'm happy to share!)
To start off, the Phoenix zoo is pretty nice. I did not see the fabled raccoon, but we weren't able to hit quite all of it--I'll have to buy a membership and go back. Likewise, while I've got plenty of shots of warthogs and wallabies and so forth, they're all lying in wallows, so I omitted a few repetitive photos of an ear sticking out of the mud, there. They have tons of turtles, too. Scads. Turtles galore. You walk in, and the first things you see are turtles sunning themselves on logs in the moat. We walked down the road, and there was a turtle booking along at quite a respectable clip for slowness incarnate. Most of them, however, were doing some variation of this.
The nice thing over the Minnesota zoo is that they can have tropical plants outside so long as they give 'em plenty of water, so the trails are positively lush. Just try doing that when it hits 20 below...
The capybara were awesome. They'd dive into the water, and then you could track them by the bubbles coming up through the duckweed. And they really do gronk. It makes me happy that here we have an animal that LOOKS like it ought to go "gronk" and when startled by another capybara, yep, indeed, it gronks and gallops into the water. They also gallop. If you've never seen a rodent gallop, it's bizarre.
As with all zoos, you get the animals not in cages, but I have to say--I don't think I've EVER seen so much wildlife on the grounds of a zoo. Skinks everywhere, birds galore, (mostly great tailed grackles and doves, but even some weird, big things I didn't recognize, fishing in the capybara areas) all those turtles ambling around, and, of course, the ground squirrels. Awww.
The macaws were down this winding, complicated trail that should have come with warning signs like "Do Not Enter Without Bottled Water." I was happy with this photo--the full size version, you can see every single wrinkle on their skin. S'cool.
Most of the animals were doing this in one form or another. Must go back sometime when it's cool and early, like 7 AM. They had giant anteaters, too, who were hanging out in the water, covered in water lilies and thus impossible to photograph through the foliage, but cute as hell anyway. And huge. When they say "giant anteater" they don't just mean "fairly large anteater, considering" they mean "holy crap, look at the size of that anteater." I was bummed that the maned wolves were off exhibit, though.
Alas, for fans of charismatic mammals, this is one that I have no better photos of--the telephoto lens was the best $100 I ever spent, but even it would only get me up this close.
They had a really neat aviary, and when I go back, I'm gonna hang out there for at least an hour. Even the ten minutes we spent was really cool, but it was near the end of the trip, James was roasting, and I was far gone into photographer Zen-mode, whereby you ignore most physical discomfort in order to get a shot. Good for photography, bad in a climate where the sun really can kill you, and it's just as well he insisted we go someplace shady, and soon. Still, got a bunch of shots of a roadrunner, and a few of a little bright blue bird with an orange breast that I feel like I should know the name of.
But it was all worth it, 'cos of these little darlin's.
Burrowing owls. Just standing there, five of them, the two juveniles here, and three adults. Oblivious to heat, noise, or anything else, they stood there in the middle of their little enclosure, not five feet away from us, watching us with big eyes. I must've gotten eight or nine photos of them, and they're all huge and crisp and screaming "PAINT ME!" I have no idea what sort of painting--straight wildlife, or something a little more fanciful--but they're just so amazing looking, who am I to resist?
So that was my day. And it was good. Hummingbirds are still at the feeder, and when I am recovered, I may try taking some photos, but they're hard to identify--our patio is set up so that they're always in silhoutte, so I can't tell anything about coloration. But in time! (Come to that, I may post a few photos of the weird birds at the zoo in hopes you clever birders can tell me what they are, later. I assume you can't count it on your life list if you see it at the zoo, though, right?)