After returning home from the farmer’s market, my wife and I decided to take a trip up to Essex County to visit the Turtle Back Zoo. I visited the zoo often as a child, and at one point a lack of funding was going to cause it to close. Most of the animals at the zoo, however, were old and had no place to go if the zoo closed, so contributions came in and the zoo has been largely renovated (and is still in the process of being updated). Here are some pictures I took of the various local and exotic fauna I came across at the zoo today.
Like many other local zoos, Turtle Back had a Muntjac. I couldn’t spot the characteristic fangs on this one, and he seemed more interested in taking a nap than posing for me.
The zoos kangaroos were taking a break from the heat as well (it broke 90 degrees F today).
The newest addition to the zoo is a Red Panda, which decided that it would rather stay inside where it was air conditioned than come outside.
The official Kean University mascots, two cougars, also decided they would rather not deal with the heat and attempted to take a cat nap, although screaming children don’t make it easy to do so.
Jelly and Jam, the zoo’s Black Bears, didn’t seem to mind the heat as much though, and decided to come down close to the glass to browse some clover.
Speaking of local wildlife, I discovered some unattended eggs beneath a bush at the park. I assume they belong to a Canada Goose, although I can’t be sure. Whatever they were, I don’t think they’ll last long; they seem to just be sitting randomly without attention, so if the environment didn’t get them some lucky raccoon will tonight.
Chipmunks also darted around the zoo, a welcome change from the fat gray squirrels I’m used to around here.
PSE&G helped to renovate the alligator exhibit as well, allowing me to get much closer to a water-level shot than usual.
The above elk had an itch he had some trouble getting at.
Unfortunately the cage prevented me from getting a better shot, but I couldn’t pass up taking a picture of this sleepy porcupine (soon to get a larger enclosure in a wildlife of New Jersey exhibit).
The zoo’s new Reptile House is also a huge improvement over the old concrete and iron structure, although they made some mistakes with their educational plaques that I’ll have to talk to them about.
Given the popularity of penguins these days, it was of little surprise that the zoo had a few Jackass Penguins as well (usually called “African Penguins” by zoos that don’t want children repeating the dreaded j-word all day). I really hope that the film “Surf’s Up” finally kills the recent penguin obsession; I can’t take any more bad CGI films featuring the flightless birds.
My favorite part of the day, however, was getting to see the wolves. I remember seeing some at the zoo many years ago, but the exhibit has since been renovated and is inhabited by at least 3 white wolves.
And of course, no day would be complete without a picture of myself sitting on a (searing hot) metal replica of a Komodo Dragon.