Friday, November 16, 2007

Houston Zoo

On Thursday, Alexandra and I decided to go to the zoo. She has asked quite a few times to ride on the paddleboats, and I finally agreed! (Why did I wait so long?) We had a lot of fun. She couldn't quite reach the peddles, but a few times she scooted forward and helped me out a bit. It really wasn't as hard as I thought it'd be and we had a nice time watching the ducks and enjoying the beautiful weather.
After docking our boat, which isn't easy, we went into the zoo.
We usually start at the Aquarium since it is one of our favorites and just inside of the gate. When we looked in the chambered natuilus aquarium, we saw a hand feeding them! They were actually grabbing food (squid?) from this person's hand, though we couldn't see the person. Well, I tried to get my camera out quickly, but I was too late. But, I really like this photo I got. To me, it almost looks like a painting. And, if you haven't tried it, it is pretty hard to photograph through an aquarium! As we walked around the rest of the aquarium, we saw lots more fresh food.
Here's a description of a chambered nautilus from the Smithsonial National Zoological Park.

Chocolatey-brown zebra stripes adorn the nautilus's smooth, white shell. It expands its living space as it grows, adding internal chambers in a perfect logarithmic spiral coated in mother of pearl. The body is situated in the last chamber, and about 90 slim tentacles and a large eye peer out. The tentacles, which bear little anatomical resemblance to the suckered tentacles of squid, function mainly in smelling and manipulating food. When imperiled by predators, the nautilus withdraws into its armor and seals the door with a tough, leathery hood.
Next, as we walked towards some of the other buildings, we spotted these leaves all over the strollers for rent. Almost every leaf had lots of growths on them in many colors - white, brown, yellow, and light red! Galls! :-) I looked up in the tree and there were tons of these galls! I am not good at identifying trees, so I don't know what kind it is. But, what an amazing site! (Hopefully, the tree was OK.)
We got a kick out of the squirrel sitting on the back of this elephant topiary. Alexandra spotted him as he was eating an acorn or something. He got scared away as I took photos, but was back again with another meal in a few minutes. You might have to enlarge this one - the squirrel is on the elephants back close to his tail.
We had one of the docents to ourselves as he talked about reptiles. I've seen this once before, but did you know a turtle's backbone and ribs are on the underneath of his shell? Pretty neat, huh? And, this is a big shell. You can see that man's belt near the top left of the photo.

Alexandra had fun posing with the elephant - a place where lots of folks take photos.
I was really pleased how this photo of an iguana turned out. It is difficult to take pictures through the glass! Here are some intersting facts I found at the San Diego Zoo's website.

Most iguanas are herbivores, eating fruits, flower buds, and young leaves. Some species also eat the occasional juicy mealworm or wax worm! At the San Diego Zoo, our iguanas are fed a fruit salad that includes dark leafy greens and a variety of fruits, while some species are also fed insects like crickets, mealworms, and wax worms. But because wax worms are high in fat, they are considered the “dessert” part of the menu at the Zoo! Speaking of food, iguanas themselves are eaten by a variety of carnivores, including humans. Green iguanas are bred and raised on farms in Central and South America to be eaten by people.

In the Children's Zoo, there is an aviary to walk through. We saw 2 doves and quite a few parrots. This dove was sitting "hidden" in a tree pretty near our walkway.

This beautiful bald eagle is named Liberty. He was shot when he was 2, so he cannot fly except to get up on his different perches. He's made a permanent home at the Houston Zoo since 2000, and we usually see him sitting at about this same spot.

I'm glad we decided to go to the zoo as I really wasn't feeling up to it until we got there. It ended up being a wonderful day. And, I found it hard to believe how few people were there at 3:30 pm when the weather was in the low or mid 80's! Hope you all are having nice weather and getting out to enjoy nature!


Robin said...

We love going to the zoo, too. In fact, maybe we are overdue for a visit.
And I agree that it is terribly hard to get photos through the glass. You did a great job. It felt like we were right there next to them.
The bald eagle is gorgeous. We have a lot of rescued bald eagles around here. And lots of them were hit by cars. I've always wondered how an eagle could get hit by a car? Weird, huh?
If I ever get to Houston, I want to go to that zoo. Let's remember that, ok?

Theresa said...

Great day! I love paddle boats-much easier on the old back than rowing!
Fantastic nautilus picture. I can never get good shots through that glass!

JacciM said...

Great photos! Thanks so much for coming by my site :) It's always good to hear from new AOers :)


live4evermom said...

I don't know what happened but I check back every night and hadn't seen anything else till today. Suddenly all these posts appear. Last one I saw was Mrs. Gallon. Weird! Anyway, I love the Houston Zoo but where are the paddle boats? We went to the kids area at the zoo and the kids got soaked in those shooting jets, then again it was the middle of summer.

Sherri said...

You are in your element at the zoo, aren't you?!?
Love the pics!

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