Sunday, November 11, 2012

The Memphis Zoo

     One of my favorite places in the world is the Memphis Zoo.  I've already been 11 times just this year.
A week ago my family made a trip there with some friends of ours.  We got there right when they opened.  Although the zoo was a bit more crowded than I would have liked, it was a beautiful fall day and most all of the animals were active and playful.

     First, a quick introduction to the Memphis Zoo.  They have been around since 1906, when the zoo started by giving a home to Natch, a black bear who was a retired baseball mascot.  Since then their collection of animals have grown, and now the Memphis Zoo is home to over 3,500 animals from more than 500 different species.  In a national survey in 2009 by Morey Associates, the Memphis Zoo was ranked the #1 zoo in the country.  I agree with that ranking wholeheartedly.

     Now, if you know me, you can probably guess where we went first.  Straight to the Teton Trek exhibit,  home of the Memphis Zoo's gorgeous wolves, Rocki, Dakota, Meeka, and Shiloh.

Watching construction workers fixing the adjacent grizzly bear exhibit.
     The wolves have always been my favorite part of the zoo.  I awaited their arrival for three years and when they finally came in the fall of 2009 I was beyond excited.  My parents bought a zoo membership and took our family to see them the first day of the exclusive members' preview for the Teton Trek exhibit.  The wolves were only five month old pups then and absolutely adorable.  Since then, I've been visiting them as often as possible. It's been so amazing to watch them grow up over the past three years.

     We all had a great time watching the wolves while at the zoo last week.  I observed some interesting behaviors, took a lot of video footage, and mostly just enjoyed being around my favorite animals.  It was really awesome, when we were about to leave, Dakota decided he wanted to play and got Meeka and Rocki to chase him all over the place.  I had the time of my life watching them run and play.

Dakota, the handsome alpha male.  He is very sweet and just so happens to be my favorite wolf ever. 

Meeka, the alpha female of the pack, stands atop her throne.
The whole pack
Dakota with Rocki, who is the beta female of the pack.
     Next, we went to the Cat Country exhibit, which houses many different cats in all shapes and sizes.
First we saw the gorgeous cheetah brothers, Kasai and Kindu.

     We also saw some adorable meercats.

     Tigers!  Although this guy was snoozing, one of his buddies was awake and active- he was going for a morning swim.  It was really fun to watch.

     Another of my favorite animals would have to be the lions.  They're so magnificent and powerful.  
Thabo, the handsome male lion.

     We went to the sea lion show next.  Unfortunately I didn't get any pictures or video because I was sketching Chloe, the graceful sea lion who performed for us.  The Memphis Zoo's sea lion shows are outstanding.  The animals are never forced to do anything, and if they don't want to perform they don't make them.  The training, however, provides great enrichment for them, as well as opportunity for them to bond with their keepers.  It's also really, really fun to watch.  Be careful if you sit near the front, you're likely to get splashed!

     After the show we made our way back to Teton Trek, where we had our lunch on the front porch of their beautiful lodge.  It's a really nice area, especially in the fall.  You really feel like you're in the Grand Tetons.

     While everyone else was eating I went back to the wolf exhibit, where all the wolves were resting.  Dakota laid down right beside the fence while I was watching him, so I just sat cross legged on the ground across from him and talked softly to him. It was such a sweet, peaceful moment, and I don't think I'll ever forget it.

Look at his precious face. 
     Then some really annoying kids on a field trip came, and they were CONSTANTLY howling loudly at him.  It was SO frustrating.  I feel so bad for Dakota and his sisters, having to put up with these inconsiderate people. When the howling people walked up the the fence where I was still sitting, Dakota stood up and left.  I was not happy with those people, but I didn't say anything.  After they left I called Dakota's name softly and asked him to come back, and he did.  It was so special.  <3  When he left the fence area I went to finish my lunch.

     A few minutes later my friend and I came back, and she photographed the wolves while I sketched Dakota while he slept.  When we had to leave to go see the rest of the animals, Dakota had lifted his head.  I said goodbye to him and he looked right at me, out of all the people who were there watching. <3  He is so sweet and I miss him. 

     The last animals we went to see were the giant pandas, Ya-Ya and Le-Le!  They were both busy enjoying a nice meal of Bamboo.  The Memphis Zoo is one of the only four zoos in the United States of America that have giant pandas.
The beautiful Miss Ya-Ya

Handsome Le-Le.
     After viewing the Pandas we traveled through the rest of the China themed exhibit, watching white cheeked gibbons frolic and asian small clawed otters doze peacefully.  

     We went to the zoo's gift shot and bought some souvenirs, and then it was time to go home.  I have to say it was definitely one of my favorite visits to the Memphis Zoo ever.  I learned about new kinds of animals, spent time with ones I loved, developed my skill as an artist, and just enjoyed being in God's wonderful creation.  

     If you haven't been to the Memphis zoo and are ever in the area, I HIGHLY recommend it.  You will have a great time and learn a lot in the process! 

God Bless!


(All the photos contained in the post belong to me.  Please do not take what isn't yours.)

1 comment:

  1. That is so cool Rachel! Your wolf stories are really neat - it's so great that you have that connection with them.


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