A visit to the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo

Over the weekend, the Wife and I visited some of her relatives in Cleveland.  Though it was a very short trip, we managed to take a trip to the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo, which has a nice collection of exhibits.  We didn’t have that much time at the zoo — we got a late start and had to head right to the airport afterward — but I nevertheless managed to get some nice pictures of the animals!  Let’s take a look…

The first natural stop in the zoo is the Rainforest exhibit, which lies just outside the main gates and has animals on display from the world’s jungles.  One of my favorite of these is the giant anteater, which hails from South America:

The anteater is big, with a head and body length of 40-48 inches!  They look very cuddly, but their claws are designed to rip open insect nests and are quite dangerous: in 2007 a zookeeper in Argentina was mauled to death by an animal on exhibit.

The rainforest exhibit is also home to a group of Orangutans; I got a nice picture of a male looking pensive:

The next creature to catch my eye was a dwarf crocodile, who was peeking at us from his vantage point high in the exhibit:

Accompanying text at the exhibit points out that the Malagasy people used to use crocodiles as judge, jury, and executioner!  Criminals would be forced to swim across crocodile-occupied water: if they survived, they were judged innocent (or inedible).

From the Rainforest exhibit, we moved on to the eclectic Primate, Cat & Aquatics Building.  My favorites, as always, were the lemurs of Madagascar!  I managed to catch a mongoose lemur in the act of climbing down from his perch:

The primates in the exhibit were worth seeing, as well; I found the Hamadryas Baboon in the midst of a midday snack:

These wise-looking baboons live in northern parts of Africa, including Egypt, and in fact were sacred to the ancient Egyptians; they were often depicted as assistant to the God of Wisdom, Thoth.

As a quite pleasant surprise, we found that the red panda was awake and moving about:

These adorable animals are typically sleeping during the day, and every time I’ve seen one in a zoo in the past they’ve been doing exactly that!  Another panda was outside munching on bamboo when we went by.

We moved on next to the Northern Trek section of the zoo to take a look at the bears!  Though they come from southeast Asia, it was still apparently too hot for the Malayan sun bears, who looked genuinely exhausted:

They are the smallest of the bears, though it is a relative term: they range from 60 to 140 pounds in weight.

From the smallest bear we moved on to the second largest bear (and the scariest), the grizzly:

Lewis & Clark were evidently the first westerners to encounter the grizzly.  They initially discounted the stories by the local natives about the ferocity and aggression of the bear, but after being chased by them and finding them extremely difficult to kill, quickly changed their minds.  An exasperated Lewis later wrote in his journal, “I find the curiosity of our men with respect to this animal is pretty much satisfied.”

At this point in our visit, we were rapidly running out of time and had to start heading out of the zoo.  Along the way we passed the African savannah, where we had a wonderful opportunity to see a giraffe up close:

This juvenile was ignoring the zoo-provided fare and sampling the local flora, which brought him close enough for some nice photo opportunities.  Another view:

There were a number of young animals at the zoo; the black rhino enclosure included a mother and son.  The son can be seen drinking here, with the mother looking on:

It’s hard to tell from the picture, but the mother was actually in a very aggressive defensive pose.  A new male had been brought in recently and was on the other side of the fence, and momma didn’t like that terribly much.

The savannah is also home to my favorite type of bird: vultures!  An African white-backed vulture was relaxing in the sun when we passed:

Nearby we also found a number of other lovely birds, including the Marabou stork,

and the African crowned crane:

And that was pretty much all we had time for!  It is a very nice zoo with a nice collection of animals on exhibit.

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