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Sunday, March 31, 2013

Design A Perfect Predator

There is an information board at one end of the Malayan Tiger exhibit at the San Diego Zoo that explains what makes tigers such exceptional predators.  The display is titled Design a Perfect Predator.  Here's the text, with a few pictures to illustrate.

Build a big, muscular cat.

Arm it with the largest canine teeth of any land carnivore, to grip its prey.

Set the eyes far back in the skull, for a wide field of vision.

Make the ears turn like radar dishes to capture sound, and add keen smell.

Use whiskers for feelers in dim light.

Make the claws retract for silent footsteps.

For an extra long stride in a sprint, thrust the back feet ahead of the front.

Finally, ridge the tongue to scrape meat from bones.

Okay, so Conner didn't really have to work all that hard to get this rabbit, but it does work to illustrate the story.


Easter Sunday With The Tigers (and Gharials)

Here are few shots from today at the San Diego Zoo.  I spent the entire 3 hours I was there hanging out with the Malayan Tigers.  There was not much going on for most of the time I was there.  For the first hour and a quarter Tiga just paced around up at the top of the enclosure.  I spent most of my time talking with people, and pointing out how to see her.  Whichever of the other tigers was on the other side of the fence sure had her attention.

Finally she came down the hill.

She wandered around for few minutes, and then went to pond and sat at the base of the little waterfall.

After a little while she went back up to the top of the hill, and stayed there until she went in for the afternoon, almost an hour later.  Danai, the older female tiger, came out next.  It's Sunday, so the keepers put out a rabbit for her.  It didn't take her long to find her Easter bunny.

On my way out I stopped off to check out the Gharials.  There were a whole bunch of them all sitting out on the shore of their pond working on their tans.

Click here to see more images from Easter Sunday at the San Diego Zoo.

Anza Borrego Desert State Park - Some Flowers

We gathered up a few friends and spent Saturday in Anza Borrego Desert State Park.  It was pushing 90F at the lower elevations, but not quite that hot at the higher ones, with a nice breeze as well.  We were hoping to find some desert wildflowers, but this hasn't been a great year for wildflowers.  We did find some nice cactus flowers though, and the ocotillo were all in bloom.  Here are few shots, mostly from the Mine Wash area, and a couple from Blair Valley.

Click here to see a few more images from Mine Wash and Blair Valley, in Anza Borrego Desert State Park, on Saturday, March 30, 2013.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

A Few Hours With The Tigers - Saturday, March 23, 2013

I spent about 3 hours at the San Diego Zoo on Saturday, almost all of that hanging out with the Malayan Tigers. Most of the time it was Tiga, the new female. She's about 3-1/2 years old. She's not been here very long at all, but it does seem like she is getting used to her new surroundings. She even went wading in the pool for a bit.

Something has her attention.

Tiga really is a great looking cat. After she went in for the day Conner came out. I only took a few shots of him, and instead let other people get in front of me for a better look.

And now for something a little smaller. On my way out I stopped briefly to see what Bullet the Fishing Cat was up to. It's been a while since I've gotten a decent shot of him. He likes to hide behind foliage and watch people, but several months ago someone chopped down most of the vegetation in his habitat. It's just now starting to grow back.

Click here to see a few more shots of Tiga, Conner and Bullet, from Saturday, March 23, 2013 at the San Diego Zoo.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Malayan Tigers, Snow Leopards and Amur Leopards - San Diego Zoo

I spent a few hours with the big cats at the San Diego Zoo this morning. In addition to the Malayan Tigers, I also stopped by to see what the Amur and Snow Leopards were up to.

Here's one of the two young male Amur Leopards.

I only saw one of the Snow Leopards, I'm not sure where the other one was. Lately I've been taking only my 300mm lens with me on Zoo trips. It's great for when the animals are a fair distance away, but when they get up close I'm often out of luck. Anything closer than about 10' and the lens won't even focus. The grating on the old cat enclosures is pretty badly oxidized in places, which makes it fairly bright and very tough to completely focus away at times.

I did spend most of my time today watching Conner, the almost 2-year old Malayan Tiger. A good portion of that time was spent talking to other people, since Conner would go for half-hour or so stretches just hanging out at the very top of the enclosure. 

When he did finally get around to coming down the hill it was usually only for a few minutes at a time.

In between checking out all the big cats I did get a look at the newest baby Panda, who was sleeping in the top of a tree.

Click here to see a few more pictures from Sunday, March 17, 2013 at the San Diego Zoo.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

The New Girl In Town (Malayan Tiger Girl That Is) - San Diego Zoo

The San Diego Zoo recently got a new female Malayan Tiger. There have been several changes at the tigers recently. Christopher, one of the two most recent cubs, who will be 2 years old in April, has moved to Norfolk, Virginia. His mother, Mek, has moved to Fresno. And Christopher's brother Conner - well, he has a new girlfriend.

Her name is Tiga, she's 3 1/2 years old, from the Bronx Zoo. I saw her for the first time this morning. She's only been going out into the exhibit for a few days now, and in speaking with one of the keepers this morning I confirmed what I thought I was seeing yesterday. The other tigers, both Conner and Danai, know that there's a new girl here.

She isn't staying out in the exhibit very long right now, just a few hours it looks like. I got there right when the Zoo opened this morning at 9:00am, and they told me that they planned to bring her in by around 10:00. That wound up being more like 10:45, but that's okay. When they finally did open up the door and get her attention, she was up the hill in a flash. So fast, in fact, that this is all I got.

Conner came out afterwards, I got a few shots of him as well. Sunday is rabbit day, and there is a pretty good shot of Conner with his rabbit in the gallery linked at the end of this blog post. Warning - not for the squeamish.

On my way to the exit I stopped off at the Gharials that are in the pool about halfway down the Tiger Trail.

Click here to see more images from the Sunday, March 3, 2013 at the San Diego Zoo.

Malayan Tigers Connor and Danai - San Diego Zoo - March 2, 2013

I spent most of the day Saturday at the Malayan Tiger exhibit at the San Diego Zoo. There was quite a bit of time (one stretch was over an hour) where pretty much nothing happened - but when something did happen it was worth the wait. I got there at about 10:30am, apparently just missing the new female tiger that recently arrived at the Zoo. Connor, who will be 2 years old on April 2, had just come out into the enclosure. He was checking everything out, and was more attentive and active than I think I've ever seen him. You could tell he knew that there was a new girl in town.

I was a warm day, and he decided to head down to the pond for a drink.

I seem to catch him looking at me from behind cover a lot. 

Every now and then he would charge off to another part of the exhibit.

At one point he went up to the top of the hill and just stayed there. I waited for over an hour, with nothing happening, when he finally decided that a splash in the pond was in order.

The not-so-heavily-modified version of this next shot is in the gallery linked at the end of this blog post. In that version you can see he's standing in the water. Here, I've jacked up the contrast a lot to make the background go black.

I took a short break from the tigers to go see the newest baby Takin, apparently born that  day, and then headed back up the Tiger Trail on my way out.

I didn't expect to see much, figured Connor would be napping, but right as got back to the tigers I noticed the keepers take Connor inside for the night, an hour earlier than I expected, and that meant another tiger would be out soon. So much for getting home early.

Danai, the older female Malayan Tiger at the Zoo, is about 19 now. She can still move pretty quickly when she wants to.

The keepers put out one of those big femur bones for her, hidden in a cardboard box so she would have something to play with. It didn't take her long to find it.

I made one last stop on my way back up the hill. The keepers had put some treats inside of a wicker basket for Bullet the Fishing Cat.

I didn't get to see Tiga, the new 3 1/2 year-old female Malayan Tiger on Saturday, but I went back early on Sunday morning and did get to finally see her. I'll post those pictures, and some new ones of Connor, soon.

Click here to see more pictures from Saturday, March 2, 2013 at the San Diego Zoo.

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.