Happy Bald Eagle Day!

June 21, 2013 at 1:52 am | Posted in The Wild Side | Leave a comment
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What a beautiful, majestic bird it is. A symbol of our country. So to all of you raptor lovers out there, Happy Bald Eagle Day!

Palm Beach Zoo

March 21, 2013 at 3:29 pm | Posted in For the Family | Leave a comment
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Another beautiful South Florida day means another perfect day at the zoo.  I know what you’re thinking.  “This girl goes to the zoo a lot!”  OK, guilty, I do.  I happen to live an hour or less from 3 great zoos and I have a 2 year old son, of course I do!  Plus, with annual passes, why not!  This AZA accredited zoo is a great place to spend just a few hours or the entire day. During the summer time I can promise you won’t see so many trips to the zoo.  But that’s not what this post is about, we’re here to talk about the animals we saw!

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The first direction we always head when entering this zoo is to the left.  Call it habit.  We love to see some of the zoos larger reptiles, including Mardi, the zoo’s White Alligator.  Seeing him is always very cool… My son loves alligators and this is one you’re able to see quite close, I always find myself amazed that Mardi is one of only 10 White Alligators in the world (truly white, not albino, they have blue eyes), making him an incredibly rare sight!

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There are a lot of other adorable and entertaining animals as you make your way into the zoo.  You’ll come across animals from the slow Sloth to two breeds of quick little Tamarins, colorful Macaws, and the always playful Ocelots.  Today the Ocelots we playing with whatever was nearby, chewing on bundles of plant debris and ambushing each other and they moved around their enclosure.

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In the Australian area of the zoo you’ll find some of coolest and cutest Aussie animals out there.  The New Guinea Singing Dogs aren’t always super active, but today we got lucky!  The pair actually approached the fence, tails wagging, and actually seemed genuinely interested in visitors.  The kids loved that they were able to get so close and the dogs even licked their hands through the safety of the fence, we even got to hear one “sing”.  You’ll also see Wallaby’s and Australian water fowl when you enter their habitat, being separated by a mere gate on the boardwalk.  The Australian Birds habitat features some of the islands famous feather species.  On this particularly cool day we watched at the Red Kangaroo did absolutely nothing.  Sounds exciting, right?  It was actually quite adorable, it laid itself out in the sun as if it were a tourist laying out at the beach.  And of course, the Australian Exhibits main focal, Oz and Abby the Koalas.  Palm Beach Zoo was chosen by the AZA to participate in the Koala Species Survival Plan, recieving this adorable pair in hopes that they will reproduce.  Their enclosure is fronted with glass, allowing people to get a close look at these precious little marsupials, and hopefully leaving them with a lasting impression to care and take action toward Koala conservation.

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The Asian area of the zoo has a good selection of critters from Asia, including the Howler Monkey who’s yells are rivaled only by my son and a walk through Asian Bird aviary with colorful birds from the continent.  The big feature of this area is obviously Asia’s famous big cats, the Tigers.  This May, Tiger Cubs Jaya, Bunga, and Penari will be celebrating their 2nd birthday.  Their births at the Palm Beach Zoo was a huge success for their breeding program and the zoo deserves a high five for taking such great care and ensuring the success of their program of this critically endangered species.  With any luck, they will continue with their success!

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Over in the Tropics of the Americas display you’ll find some wonderful animals from Central and South America.  Here you can see the beautiful resident Jaguar, check out the Nocturnal Animal Observation, and kids can take their pictures on structures in the Mayan Plaza.  When you cross the bridge you may catch a glimpse of Tapir’s swimming in the water and Patagonian Cavy’s lounging around.  Also be on the look out for Delilah, the zoos baby Giant Anteater.  Look carefully, that adult Anteater doesn’t have a hunched back, that’s actually little Baby Delilah hanging on her mothers back.

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Heading along our way, we walked past the Spider and Capuchin Monkey Islands.  The sight on the Spider Monkey Island stopped me (and everyone else) in my tracks… a little bitty baby hanging on its mother.  It was too cute for words!  I watched as Momma Monkey climbed down the tree and over to the water to grab herself a drink.  Just as I thought for sure there was no way possible the sight could get any more adorable I was proven wrong.  Anyone who argues that animals don’t have emotional feelings needed to see the precious moment we watched.  Momma Monkey walked over to another monkey sitting alone and they threw their arms around each other and embraced in a monkey hug.  It was a moment I almost missed capturing on film because I was too busy “Awwwwwww”ing the precious moment between these two friends.

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Our last stop at the zoo was the Florida Wetlands area.  Here you can see on display our very own wildlife found here in Florida.  There is an aviary with Roseate Spoonbills and Scarlet Ibis, a pair of beautiful Bald Eagles, an Alligator display, and Florida Black Bears just to name a few.  A favorite of so many, including my son now and myself as a kid (and admittingly now) is the River Otter display where you can watch Otters swim and play and glide by you.  They seem to love an audience, even pressing against the glass when people gather to watch them.

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Naturally, no Florida display would be complete without the Florida Panther.  This endangered cat’s population is dangerously low in the wild with only around 100 cats remaining, though this is a serious improvement from the estimated 30 in the early 90’s.  Last march the zoo lost their Panther of 17 years, Colin Patrick, but were fortunate enough to add two new cats over the summer, both orphaned rescues.  The two here at Palm Beach Zoo are still considered kittens, and boy were they acting like it today! They were pouncing at each other, chasing one another, and climbing everything in their enclosures.  In case you’re looking at one of the above photos and thinking “Why is there trash in their enclosure?”, it’s not.  The cardboard box is part of the zoos enrichment program, giving the animals safe objects to play with they they don’t usually have within their enclosure, providing physical and mental exercise. They seemed to love it and be enjoying life.

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IF YOU GO:

This is a great zoo to visit and time of year.  During the summer it is well shaded and has a fountain the kids can play in.  They also offer special events throughout the year after regular hours like overnights and nighttime parties as well as birthday parties and weddings.  For more information, visit them here…

http://palmbeachzoo.org/

Pic of the Week – 1/5

January 10, 2013 at 3:37 pm | Posted in Pic of the Week | 2 Comments
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While it’s not the clearest picture I’ve ever taken, it sure was an exciting sight to see!  Right into the New Year, my friend and I traveled down to Pembroke Pines to see the one and only nesting pair of Bald Eagles in South East Florida.  It’s in a residential area, across the street from a school, not really where you would expect to see a pair of Eagles.  But year after year, this pair returns to this nest to lay their eggs and raise their young.  Finding it was a bit tough, funny as it may sound.  You can park along the street and see the nest across the street.  It took a little scouting and referring to a web site set up for this pair to find them, but once we saw the nest we though “How did we not see this?” (For the record, South Fl. Eagle Watch has made it incredible easy to locate the nest, giving you very specific instructions on where to stand for the best view.)  Momma Eagle was sitting in the nest, Daddy Eagle was nowhere to be seen.  We watched her as she preened herself and arranged her nest while watching over her egg.  Since an egg has been laid, there will always be at least one Eagle present until the Eaglets are ready to fledge, so if you’re in the South Florida area now is the perfect time to go have a looksy!  Maybe you’ll come up with your own pic of the week.

If You Go:

http://www.southfloridaeaglewatch.org/

A Symbol of America on Thanksgiving

November 28, 2012 at 3:56 pm | Posted in Creature Feature, The Wild Side | Leave a comment
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On Thanksgiving day, on the way home from Sanibel, I was still kicking myself for missing the opportunity to snap pictures of the Bald Eagles we had seen that day.  Little did I know, my real opportunity was 5 minutes down the road from my inlaws at the Dollar General!  Yes, that’s right, the Dollar General of all places.  We were making the final right turn toward our families neighborhood when I spotted two large birds on top of a large bare tree.  Most of the day, I had been getting my hopes up of seeing these majestic birds only to find out what I though could have been them from a distance was actually an Osprey or a Turkey Vulture.  This time though, with their bright white heads glowing in the sunset, I was sure!  I frightened my husband into popping a u-turn and going back.

With around 1,200 nesting pairs, Florida has the third largest population of breeding eagles, with Alaska having the most and then Minnesota. Bald Eagles usually make their way down to Florida around September for the winter/breeding season, often returning to the same nest they have used in years before.  Because Eagles return to their old nests, organizations have been able to install “Eagle Cams” at the nests while the pair isn’t using it.  This gives anyone with internet access the ability to check in on a nesting pair and watch from the time eggs are laid until the young fledge.

While I didn’t see a nest in sight, I’m certain this pair of Eagles will be nesting nearby.  Three times we drove past the Dollar General, three times at least one of the raptors was there, if not on the old tree than perched upon a cell tower on the other side of the building.  Cape Coral has around 11 pairs of nesting Eagles in or near the town, we were pleasantly surprised to find this pair was practically our neighbors.

Photos taken with my Nikon D3100

To locate a nest in Florida, try FWC’s Nesting Locator…

https://public.myfwc.com/FWRI/EagleNests/nestlocator.aspx

Not near a nest but want to catch the nesting action anyway?  Try one of these Eagle Cams…

http://www.eaglenestcams.com/

Pic of the Week 11/24

November 23, 2012 at 7:54 pm | Posted in Pic of the Week | Leave a comment
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I realize I’m a slacker, missing last weeks pic of the week, but I’m hoping this makes up for it. While spending Thanksgiving weekend with family in Cape Coral, Fl, I spotted a pair of Bald Eagles by a Dollar General in a dead tree. After seeing them throughout the day while driving and missing the opportunity to take their pictures, this was exactly the moment I had been waiting for! So after popping a u turn and a little frantic driving to get to them before they flew away (and they did, those pictures should be up in the best few days), I was able to capture this American icon on Thanksgiving Day, and my pic of the week.

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