I love the Carnivora, could you tell?

27 01 2007

Last weekend my wife and I took a day trip to the Philadelphia Zoo, and despite the biting cold I got some pictures of animals I normally don’t see there. It’s more preferable to go in the spring or summer when things are warmer and more animals are outside, but at the same time such weather attracts crowds of loud children that some more solitary creatures (like the Fishing Cat) don’t want to have anything to do with. I also figured that I should start posting more pictures on here, perhaps picking one photo every week (Fridays?) and doing a little profile on that animal. It’d be something to get some regular attendance anyhow, last week receiving over 50 visits in a day from linking to a post here in a comment on Pharyngula and then crashing to nearly single digits. It’s fun doing this for myself and sort of “thinking out loud” on here, but it would be good to get something of a readership going. Anyway, on to the pictures!

Me and an Amur Leopard

This is me and an Amur Leopard (Panthera pardus orientalis) at the zoo; the poor guy has nearly half of his tail cut off! There are only about 30 Amur leopards left in the wild, making it critically endangered and groups like WCS are trying to bring the population back up (if I remember right a new one will soon be kept at the Central Park Zoo). Amur leopards are the northernmost subspecies of leopards, having a thicker coat and larger rosettes compared to their African and Indian counterparts, such beautiful fur leading to their downfall as they were primarily hunted for this asset.

Leopard Stare

While we were watching the leopard started lapping at a little pool in its enclosure, and I managed to snap this shot in-between drinks. I absolutely the intense looks cats are capable of.


This one is a little soft on the focus (it’s hard shooting through the angled glass for the leopard’s enclosure; I’ve had many shots come out like this), but I still like it since the cat makes its own background, making it seem bigger than it actually is.

Eyelash Viper

This was one of the Eyelash Vipers (Bothriechis schlegelii) in the reptile house. I usually don’t give snakes much more than a passing glance (they’re cool, but not very exciting in captivity), but I love the colors and “eyelash” scales of this species. Luckily they’re behind glass so they don’t jump out and bite, which would cause (other than the severe pain), potential necrosis of whatever they bit.


This is one of the Red Kangaroos (Macropus rufus)outside that day, which later on was, erm, receiving the affections of a male (don’t worry, I didn’t post any marsupial porn today). Notice the use of their tail and how muscular it is. It reminds me of a prehistoric reptile (its name escapes me at the moment) that had shorter arms than legs and a long tail, so perhaps it moved in a similar way being that it doesn’t seem like it was bipedal.

Red Panda

The Red Panda (Ailurus fulgens) was actually awake for a while during my last visit, walking around the enclosure after it washed itself. It’s always interesting to see how individual red pandas differ from each other, this particular one looking a bit fatter and having a shorter face than the one I took pictures of at the Bronx Zoo not long ago (the very one that’s looking at you on my border). This probably has quite a bit to do with age and getting fatter with more time in captivity, but if you do look carefully enough you can see that there is indeed variation between individuals.

Wild Dog

I didn’t think I was going to catch a glimpse of the African Wild Dogs (Lycaon pictus) being that I visited on such a cold day, but as I was walking by I saw a few pairs of big ears flutter behind a rock and I was soon treated to a display of several dogs romping about. It’s always interesting to watch them, trying to pick out who is submissive to whom and what the hierarchy is. The Bronx Zoo has a better habitat and larger group of the dogs (3 just isn’t enough for a pack animal), but it’s always a pleasure to see them.

Fishing Cat

During my last two visits I missed the Fishing Cat (Prionailurus or Felis viverrina), but this time I was lucky enough to get a few pictures while it ran around its enclosure. It certainly was a fat cat, not helped by the fact of its relatively small ears and thin tail, but you could definitely tail it had more than enough to eat as it pawed its way back and forth through its enclosure.


Just like last time the three Cougars (Puma concolor) were out and about during my visit, at least two nearly posing for the camera right in front of the glass. They also managed to get up into the tree towards the front of their enclosure but the glass off the glass was so terrible it essentially ruined the photos.


All I’m going to say is that I absolutely love this picture.


No day would be complete without a visit to the Cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus) trio, and although two were content to stay warm one came down to have a look at things, calling intermittently and acting as if he was looking for something. I was surprised that they would even be on display with the temperature so low (it was about 26 degrees F if I remember right), but I suppose their species plasticity has allowed them to get used to the cold after so many winters at the Philadelphia Zoo.




2 responses

2 02 2007
Jeremi Harnack

You know how much I love seeing your photos! These are great! Especially the closeup of the cougar.

9 02 2007
Joan Bird

revived my interest in biology! Great photos.

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