Sunday, January 4, 2015

A visit to the Minnesota Zoo in Winter

My older daughter suggested we go to the Minnesota Zoo. It has been a long time since I have made a winter visit there. We arrived on Saturday about 11:30 AM. The admission is pricey, but later I learned that part of the admission fees go for conservation projects world-wide, so that made me feel a bit better.

As we walked from the parking area to the entrance building I found two sculptures to admire.

The temperature was around 32 (0 C) and there wasn't any wind. I suggested we walk some of the outdoor trails thinking this might be the warmest part of the day. 

We headed first for an area called the Russian Grizzly Coast. 

This area of the zoo has animals from the Russian side of the Pacific Ocean as pictured above in the map. (I am still learning about my new camera. One thing -- each time I turn it on I have to change the flash to a no flash command or else I end up surprised with a flash reflection such as appear in the map photo.)

One of the first thing we saw were the sea otters. They move so quickly that it was hard to keep up with them within the camera viewfinder. Nearby signs explained one way they keep warm is this constant movement. And they can live in water at a temperature of 0 C, whereas a human would die in about 30 minutes at this temperature from hypothermia.

 The signage also explains that the sea otters are a vulnerable population. Their numbers have drastically declined during the last 100 years. Part of the reason is that their pelts were sought for warm clothing. They are beginning to increase in their numbers.

Brown bears, usually called grizzly bears in the United States, are also found in the wild on this Russian coast. As one might expect the bears were sleeping this time of year.

 The explanatory signs said the bears were sleeping, not hibernating, because they could be awakened. However, people walking by didn't seem to bother their sleep at all. Signs also explained the bears are suffering too. Part of the problem is the decrease in the salmon population, salmon being a primary food source for the wild brown bears on the Russian coast.

We headed then to walk what is called the Northern Trail.

The first thing we saw were the wild boars.

I am familiar with these because they are also part of the animal life of Poland. What I didn't know is that they are primarily night feeders. Hence, they are sleeping at mid-day.

Next we saw the Amur Tigers. These tigers are native to a place in Asia that has the same weather as does Minnesota and so they do just fine in Minnesota.

Nearby is another Asian animal, the takin. These animals are native to China. The explanatory information here told us they are quite threatened there because their native habitat is one of the areas of huge development in China. 

We continued into an area resembling the American plains. Below is not my best photograph. It shows bison at rest. 

Closer to our trail I was surprised to see prairie dogs. I thought they stored food and lived underground most of the winter.

In the same area are moose. 

Signage here reminds us that something mysterious is happening to the moose in Minnesota. The numbers are declining drastically and there is a huge study underway to try to solve this mystery.

And certainly not part of the American plains, but comfortable in Minnesota are Bactrian camels. 

The signage by this area explained these camels come from the domesticated line of camels; they are not part of the group of wild camels who come from Central Asia areas such as Mongolia.

 When we had finished walking these trails we went for coffee. Then we went to the Wild Bird Show. We really enjoyed this show very much.

After the Bird Show we spend some time on the Minnesota Trail.

Above is a lynx and below are some wild turkeys.

By now the weather was beginning to change so we started on our way towards the car.

First we enjoyed watching the snow monkeys.

Just after I put away my camera the monkeys began to use this branch like a see-saw.I was so sorry not to get a video of this. It was such fun to see this. Signage here explained the monkeys continue to learn new behaviors. One new skill is making snowballs. Another new skill is the washing of food. The information explained that one day one of the monkeys washed a piece of sweet potato and was delighted with the result. Since then many of the these monkeys wash their food before eating.

Our last stop was to see the African penquins.

I was glad that my daughter had suggested we go to the Minnesota Zoo. It was interesting to see how things look in the winter. Hope you readers enjoy this view too.

At home we were happy to see the things placed in the slow cooker in the morning had turned into a nice turkey casserole.

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