07 September 2012

Santa Barbara Zoo

One "hike" that is sure to find a lot of animals is a trip to the zoo.  Now set up so that you enter through the gift shop instead of hiking up the hill beside the swans, but there are no animals along the new entry route unless you count the microscopic pond scum that is being cultivated.  We spot some cute and very furry new world monkeys with a sign saying they can't really grasp things with their tails.  The greatness of the new world monkey tail shattered so callously!  Not a good start.  We head over to the elephants, who are determined not to do much of anything in the day's heat, then turn to the penguins that have replaced the sea lions.  A few of them are determined to do quite a lot of swimming.

We head down to the window below for a few laps of underwater penguin swim, then check out the various reptiles in the dark near it.  Then, because there is a rumor of baby flamingos, we head off to their enclosure.

There are turtles and geese and koi and macaws in the flamingo enclosure as well.

Indeed there are baby flamingos.  They haven't all hatched yet, but there is one baby toddling around and another having a bath and more being cared for in their nests and eggs being sat upon.

While we are there, a big group of keepers come up.  They are out to record the babies and check their health.  They set up to one side of the enclosure opposite the flamingos with the geese in the middle.  They head for the flamingo nests and grab one of the babies after grabbing the mother's beak, then take it back to be examined.  During this it becomes clear that a few of the keepers are really there as goose guards.  Specifically, there's a big gander who really likes attacking anything by his pond, so someone's got to keep this critter at bay.  They give the chick an extensive examination, then it's another bit of beak holding while putting it back.

Beside the funny pink birds are funny birds with far too large a beak (horn billed toucan) and some more animals who get to hang out in the blissful shade.  We head around looking for cats, but the first doesn't feel like being out.  The porcupines are sleeping it off.  The snow leopards are out, though.  Well, until the first we see gets chased into a hole by the second.

Eventually, she comes out again.

It is almost time for the penguins to get their fill of fish.  Well, the penguins and the night heron that won't be turned away because sometimes it gets lucky.  We head through the Tropical Aviary back toward the penguins.

Silly me, I went all the way to the Himalayas to see one of these.

The penguins seem to get very excited while getting fed and many of them launch into a very fast lap after getting three or four fish.  It's hard to believe that all those fish fit into a little penguin as they gobble down their dinner.  Oh, and they are quite itchy, it seems.

They keep paddling while they itch, going in tight circles.
After the penguins, we head over the hill to see some natives.  The island fox is curled up under a bush and looking cute and foxy.  The California condors are out and displaying their wings.

We head past the ever bored gorillas to find the meerkats are having a spot of bother because a crow is eyeing them.  They eye it back in mass, and keep eyeing where it was after it has headed off for the ocean.  The lions have been flattened by the heat and can't be bothered to do more than twitch a tail in the grass.  The giraffes are clustered by the food and having a nibble.  Their bird friends seem to have gone missing, I don't see any golden crowns roaming the grass among their feet.  We eventually head out past the cactus, which have a few blooms, and the black swans, which aren't actually on display.

It's always a good day for the zoo.

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