Several weeks ago I got to spend some time in NYC. High on my list of things to do before leaving the Big Apple was a visit to the big cats at the Bronx Zoo. What a treat!
The zoo is in such a serene part of town – it was a welcome break from the busyness of Manhattan. Our walk to the zoo from the subway took us down a sweet-smelling street lined on both sides with flowering trees and past a peaceful river and park on our right.
Our first stop was to see the two resident black leopards.
See their spots?
They weren’t up for socializing, but we did get a few disinterested glances. They mostly just wanted to nap. I don’t blame ‘em.
Next stop, snow leopards.
The fellow pictured above is Leo, an orphan from Pakistan. He’s staying at the Bronx Zoo temporarily until they finish building a home for him in Pakistan. His residence in New York is the result of lots of collaboration – between the U.S. & Pakistan, between the Bronx Zoo and the Wildlife Conservation Society, and cooperation with several other international conservation organizations such as the World Conservation Union and the World Wildlife Fund.
In all the shots I have of Leo, he is perched at the top of this rock in his enclosure, staring off either to the left or to the right. There was something captivating going on up there – only Leo knows.
And Leo’s neighbor:
I didn’t find any information on this leopard. All I know is what you can tell from the pictures: that she is so pretty . . .
. . . and a fastidious groomer.
There were three young Siberian tigers on display – I wonder if they are the same tigers as these guys?
They’re not easy to spot in the picture above, but there’s one on the far left, one just to the left of the small tree in the middle, and one on the far right. They are crouched and ready to play! Unfortunately, a wildlife photographer I am not – these three young tigers were so playful, scampering, stalking, and wrestling, but I wasn’t successful in capturing those scenes. When I raised my camera, they laid down, and when I lowered or adjusted my camera – playtime! I wish I could share their games with you in pictures, but for what it’s worth I can tell you that it was very cute and very fun to watch. I look forward to improving my wildlife photography skills.
Here’s what I did capture of their morning:
Until my visit to the Bronx Zoo I didn’t even know there was such an animal as a Malayan tiger! These tigers are natives of Malaysia, and are designed for hot jungles, unlike Siberian tigers who are built for the cold temps of Russia. Malayan tigers’ coats are darker and thinner than those of Siberian tigers.
Also, unlike the Siberian tigers at the zoo, the Malayans were pretty inactive, and having a very restful morning.
To keep their tigers busy and alert, the zoo provides enrichment activities like the following:
- They give them branches from other animal exhibits that are full of interesting smells.
- They give them “fishcicles” – fish treats covered in a coating of ice that the tigers paw, lick, and bite through. How many licks do you suppose it takes to get to the center of a fishcicle?
And last, but certainly not least (and my personal favorite):
The Bronx Zoo is host to an entire pride of lions. They were pretty sleepy too, but at one point one of the young male lions bounded over to his dad and tried to rouse him by playfully batting at his mane. The papa responded with a growl and a gentle swipe. The youngster tried a second time, with the same result. Since a game of chase was clearly off the table, he settled for a snuggle instead (he’s pictured below laying behind his dad’s head.)
Another young male nibbles some grass:
See how his mane is starting to come in?
I was pleasantly surprised by how active some of the cats were – I think it helped that the weather was cool, and we got there right as the zoo opened in the morning, so naptime hadn’t fully set in yet for everyone.
If you’re in the area I hope you get a chance to stop by this zoo! Its cats are definitely worth a visit. Check out the Bronx Zoo website for more info.
Have a restful weekend! Treat yourself to a cat-nap!
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