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Monday, May 28, 2012

I Think These Cats Can Tell Time (Or: One Not Very Happy Tiger)

I went back to the San Diego Zoo on Saturday morning for a couple of hours. My original plan was to get there early and watch the Amur Leopards chase each other around. That didn't happen - I didn't arrive until 10:45 or so, and by then the place was jammed. I got to the Malayan Tigers at about 11:00, and just stood off to the side and waited. The cubs were resting in the sun, just sort of watching the people go by.

A little story is in order here. Ever since these guys came out on exhibit around July of last year, there has been a "keeper talk" session almost every day, and almost always at about 11:30. During these sessions a keeper would toss treats (usually chunks of cut up beef heart) to the cubs and their mother, Mek. The keeper talk served multiple purposes - it provided "enrichment" for the tigers, it got them out where people could see them, and it gave the keepers a chance to talk about tiger habitat conservation. If you've been following this blog for the last year or so you've seen lots of pictures of Mek and the cubs during the keeper talks. I think I even remarked in an earlier blog post about how good Mek was at knowing when it was time to head down the hill for the keeper.

Well, a little over a week ago they stopped doing the keeper talks. I think someone forgot to tell Mek.

At 11:25 she came trotting down from the top of the hill, fully expecting someone to toss some chunks of fresh beef heart in her direction . . . . 

. . . . She stopped for a bit at a spot about halfway down . . . .

. . . . And then she continued on down to the edge of the cliff where she used to get her treats. Her cubs joined her - all three waiting, not very patiently at all. It didn't take long for her to figure out that something wasn't right - and you could see (and hear) that she was not happy at all about the change in plans.

Click here to see more pictures of the Malayan Tigers at the San Diego Zoo on Saturday, May 26, 2012, including several of the 2 cubs playing together.

To see a completely different view of Mek, scroll down the page to the last shot in the Happy Mother's Day post. It's hard to believe that is the same animal. Or, maybe it's not so hard to believe - and I think this shot above is likely the more natural reaction you would get if you ran across her in the wild. 

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Hanging Out With The Big Cats - Part 2

I went back to see the Malayan Tigers and Amur Leopards at the San Diego Zoo on Sunday morning.

I started off with the Amur Leopards, which was a good choice for first thing in the morning. The keepers had put a large plastic tub filled with water in their enclosure, and they seemed to really enjoy splashing around in it. There was basically lots of chasing around, alternating with lots of lying around.

On my way from the Leopards to the Malayan Tigers I made a brief stop to see what the Pandas were up to - scroll down the page to check out a few pictures of the little one playing in a large tub of wood chips.

The Tiger cubs were mostly napping when I first got there, occasionally opening their eyes to check things out.

Something caught Conner's attention at one point (it was a deep growl from up on the hill - either his mother or one of the other adult tigers).

Apparently it wasn't all that interesting.

Once they were sufficiently rested it was time to check out the new toy that the keepers have installed for them.

Their attention span doesn't seem to be all that much longer than Aldo or Calli's. After a while it was back to napping.

Click here to see more images from the San Diego Zoo on Sunday, May 20, 2012.

Hanging Out With The Big Cats - Part 1

A friend of mine has a license plate holder on her Jeep that says "I would rather be at home with my cats". I can understand why - cats are really fun to hang out with. I spent most of this weekend with the big cats at the San Diego Zoo. The plan started out to be just a few hours on Saturday morning, with one of my cousins along for the morning walk as well. It turned into all day Saturday, and back again on Sunday morning.

As with anything to do with cats, there was a lot of waiting around for something to happen. When it did, it was worth the wait. We started out passing by the Fishing Cat, and did manage to get a shot of Dow as she wandered around her enclosure. She may not be all that big, but she is fun to watch. 

The Malayan Tigers were napping early on Saturday morning, so we headed over to the Amur Leopards, who were certainly not napping. We got there right as a keeper was putting out some treats and toys for them. The three cubs had their first birthday last Monday.

There was a fair amount of chasing around going on - alternated with a fair amount of napping or resting. The best time to see these three is first thing in the morning, when they are the most active.

The Mountain Lions (Puma, Cougar) were up and about. The female was busy stalking kids in strollers right up at the fence, so I couldn't get a good shot of her, but the male was acting more like a typical cat.

Christopher and Conner, the Malayan Tiger cubs, chased each other around for bit. There are no more keeper talks, where they throw food to the tigers, but we managed to catch them at the right time anyway.

Guapo the Jaguar is a new father. His cubs were born a few weeks ago. They're not out on display yet, but from the pictures I've seen they're really cute.

My cousin left after lunch, and I had to then make the tough choice of either going home at about 2:00PM to do housework etc, or going back down to see what the tigers and leopards had planned for their afternoon. Looking back on it, it wasn't all that tough of a decision after all.

Christopher and Conner were playing around in the upper pond. It was so crowded at the glass window that I only got off one shot.

Once they got bored playing in the pool they alternated napping and chasing each other around the big enclosure. It looks like Conner is about to get mugged by his brother.

Christopher's fur is still wet from the pond.

It was such a nice afternoon that I decided to just hang out there and wait for the change of tiger shift, when they bring in the cubs and their mother and put out one of the other adults. On Saturday it was Danai, the older female.

At about 4:00PM I went back to the Amur Leopards, and just hung out there for about an hour. The three cubs were pretty much out for the afternoon, and the late afternoon sun puts a lot of glare on the cage, but it really is a pleasant place to just hang out. I met some nice people, and got a few shots as well.

Click here to see more images from Saturday, May 19, 2012 at the San Diego Zoo.

A Few More Images From The Weekend

Here are a few images from this weekend that don't involve big cats - but these were still taken at the San Diego Zoo or in Balboa Park.

The monitor lizards (Komodo Dragons) are one of my favorites. It's too bad (but probably better for safety reasons) that they're behind glass. The glare makes it tough to get a clean shot, but at least the way their enclosure is laid out you can see them at just a little below eye level. I don't think I would want one of these chasing me.

This is Gao Gao, the adult male panda, playing around in a large plastic tube of what appeared to be wood shavings. He seemed to be really enjoying himself.

We stopped in to the Botanical Building in Balboa Park on the way back to the Zoo after lunch on Saturday. Here's one shot from that.


The Presidio and Sera Museum - San Diego

I spent a couple of hours last weekend wandering around the Presidio and the Sera Museum. You can't miss the old Spanish-style building sitting high up on a hill overlooking Old Town San Diego. Many people think that the building dates back to the same time as the old Spanish mission churches, but it was actually built in 1929 to serve as a museum, and continues to do so today.

Click here to see a few more images from the Presidio and Sera Museum taken on May 13, 2012.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Happy Mothers Day!

I was trying to think of some appropriate pictures to post for Mother's Day - and decided what better than a few mother & son interaction shots. I don't have any shots of my mother and I together that I want to post here, but I'm sure many people can relate to these.

These were taken over the last year or so of Mek, the Malayan Tiger mother at the San Diego Zoo, and her two sons, Christopher and Conner. I can't tell for sure in some of them, but it's generally Christopher who stays closest to his mother - and who generally elicits the strongest reaction at times. She's not yawning in this first shot. He was about 3 1/2 months old when this was taken.

About 2 seconds after I shot this next one, she bit him on the back of the neck and chased him off. You can see more of this particular interaction in the sequence of shots in this post.

Even though the cubs are a lot bigger now, I think they know that their mother is still in charge. Or, if they act like they've forgotten that, she is quick to remind them.

So, Happy Mother's Day to Mek, and all other mothers out there.


Saturday, May 12, 2012

Old Poway Park - San Diego dSLR Club Monthly Group Shoot - May 2012

Some old trains, a blacksmith shop, and a farmer's market - together they make for a great place to spend a morning wandering around with a camera and a group of friends. Here are a few images from this morning at Old Poway Park.

A couple from the farmer's market.

A couple of old windmills.

The moon was over the old railroad water tank.

The blacksmith demonstration was one of the highlights of the morning. 

Click here to see more from Old Poway Park, in Poway, California, including a few from inside the old Nelson House Museum, and more from the blacksmith demonstration.

About Me

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San Diego, California, United States
About me . . . When I'm not working I like to be out exploring and photographing. I do this blog just for fun, and to be able to share these images with friends. I hope you enjoy viewing these images as much as I enjoyed creating them.

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All of the content and images on this site (c) Frank B. Baiamonte. If you would like to use any of these images please contact me via email at to discuss terms of usage. Note that images from the San Diego Zoo and Safari Park are not available for commercial usage. You can also see more on my Instagram page @frankbaiamonte.

Header image: Cibola National Wildlife Refuge, Cibola, Arizona. End image: Downtown San Diego, California skyline from Coronado Island. Profile picture: Craters of the Moon National Monument, Idaho, by Heather Baiamonte.